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Rory Burns and Surrey fuelled by 2018 success

Rory Burns and Surrey fuelled by 2018 success
Rory Burns and Surrey fuelled by 2018 success

Rory Burns has revealed that he and his Surrey players are using the memory of what happened after they became county champions in 2018 to fuel this season’s drive to win successive titles and underline their ambition to be the best red-ball team of the era.

“I think it’s fair to say that the previous time we won the championship we didn’t then back it up in the next few seasons,” said Surrey captain Burns. “It’s important we play some really good cricket this summer because we didn’t play as well as we could have done after 2018. This time, after winning the title last year, we want to keep on improving and we’re working really hard to do that.”

Surrey have started this season impressively, with four wins and two draws from their opening block of six LV= Insurance County Championship matches. They are 25 points clear at the top of the Division One table, although second-placed Warwickshire do have a game in hand.

Burns is in his sixth season as Surrey captain, and the 32-times capped former England Test opener is bidding for a third title under his leadership.

“It’s very enjoyable captaining this team,” said Burns. “We have a great bunch in that dressing room and to be where we are after the first block of six games is just what we were aiming for at the start of the season.

“But we certainly don’t want to get complacent and there is a real determination to keep driving on and keep improving. I still feel there is much more to come from this group and, as champions from last year, we all want this time to keep working hard and keep improving our games.”

Surrey fell away to sixth in 2019, following the 2018 triumph – which was the club’s first championship win for 16 years – and in the Covid-shortened 2020 season they came only fifth in a six-county South Group. In the experimental conference-divisional hybrid structure in 2021 a sluggish start to the campaign saw Surrey finish only fourth in an initial six-team Group Two and thus fail to qualify for Division One and a chance to lift the title again that year.

This season has so far seen Surrey overwhelm most opponents with their batting depth and five-pronged pace attack, in a repeat of the on-field strategy which took them to the 2022 title.

Eight players average 35 or more with the bat, with seven of those scoring 200 runs or more. Ollie Pope (379), Burns (357), Jamie Smith (312) and Dom Sibley (299) lead the run-scoring list, while Dan Worrall (24 at 20.41) heads the wicket-takers.

Next come Jordan Clark (21 at 20.80), Kemar Roach (18 at 26.94) and Sean Abbott (16 at 27.81), but it is the eye-catching returns of Tom Lawes and Gus Atkinson, from only three appearances each, which stand out even in that company.

Lawes, still only 20, destroyed Kent last week with career-best innings and match figures of five for 22 and eight for 63, respectively, and has 15 wickets at 17.80 while the pacy Atkinson, at 25 predicted to break into England’s squad in the near future, has 14 at just 14.92 runs apiece. Both Atkinson (12) and Lawes (10) have played relatively few first-class games and yet already look proven match-winners at county level.

“In even a short career so far Tom has shown he is the sort of bowler who has spells where he keeps on picking up wickets, and that’s a great knack to have. Gus is quick, he hits hard lengths for batsmen to play and he’s going really well at the moment,” added Burns.

By Mark Baldwin, ECB Reporters Network