DI VENUTO BURSTING WITH PRIDE AT CHAMPIONSHIP WIN
HAVING GUIDED SURREY TO THEIR FIRST SPECSAVERS COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE IN 16 YEARS, HEAD COACH MICHAEL DI VENUTO DIRECTED ALL OF HIS PRAISE TOWARDS HIS PLAYERS AND BACKROOM STAFF.
Surrey racked up their tenth victory – nine consecutively – in just 12 matches in this year’s Division One to seal the Club’s 20th title at Worcestershire on Thursday.
Having beaten every side in the division at least once, Surrey have dominated this year’s first-class game and Di Venuto was glowing when aSked for his thoughts following the winning moment.
He said: “It’s a special feeling. I felt it a couple of times as a player but this feels so much different. I’m so proud of the boys. They’ve worked so hard over the last few years and they totally deserve this victory.
“As a coach, it’s amazing to see it all come together when the players represent the team so well and our fantastic staff work hard behind the scenes.”
Legendary South African bowler Morne Morkel hit the winning runs in a match in which he had earlier picked up his fourth five-wicket haul and 50th Specsavers County Championship wicket of the season in just eight matches.
Morkel signed a three-year Kolpak deal with Surrey at the start of the summer but an injury in his final Test appearance delayed his debut. His figures alone tell you it was worth the wait.
With Worcestershire building a strong second innings, Morkel took five wickets for just eleven runs in a blistering spell of pace bowling that fans the world over know him for.
“It was probably fitting for Morne to hit the winning runs, especially in this game as he certainly turned the game yesterday.
“Moments like that are so special. He has practiced the pull shot the ball before and we had a laugh about it on the balcony but the next ball he connected and it was a beautiful shot.
“We got confidence early in the year and then added Morne to that group. He’s added that difference which we hoped he would, he’s been a class performer in Test cricket for years and we’re very lucky to have him on board.”
In terms of the squad composition as a whole, Di Venuto has focused on a blend of exciting youngsters with senior professionals.
Of the 20 players to have turned out for Surrey this year, 11 of them have come through the Club’s academy or pathway schemes with two of them, Sam Curran & Ollie Pope, going on to make their Test debuts.
“You’re always looking for that perfect mix with good senior players and the youngsters coming through and we’ve seen the youngsters really step up this year,” said the Australian coach.
“We know what the senior boys can do and those guys have had outstanding years. We’ve seen Virds come through, Sam go from strength to strength, Ollie Pope have a fantastic year and Ryan Patel provided some big moments, especially at Guildford.”