Surrey have won their first County Championship title since 2002 after beating Worcestershire in a close game at New Road.
With Somerset losing to Hampshire earlier in the week, Surrey needed at least a draw to secure the title with two games to spare. Worcestershire set Surrey a tricky target of 272 to win, but half-centuries from openers Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman laid the platform for a three-wicket win.
Burns’ combined match aggregate of 188 runs was typical of his season. The Surrey captain has led from the front all year, scoring 345 more runs than anyone else in Division One of the County Championship. After Alastair Cook’s retirement, he is a strong candidate for a place in England’s squad to Sri Lanka this winter.
A characteristic of Surrey’s title win this season has been the prominent roles played by recent academy graduates. Aside from Burns, a trio of 20-year olds – Sam Curran, Ollie Pope and Amar Virdi – have been pivotal in Surrey’s first Championship triumph in 16 years.
Curran, who won player-of-the-series in the Test series against India, was a constant threat with the new ball, whilst no English spinner has taken more Division One wickets than Virdi so far this season. Pope’s superb year with the bat – he has scored three hundreds so far this season – won him England recognition earlier this season as well.
Ben Foakes, who has been on the periphery of the England Test squad for a year now, has provided a steady head in the middle order, whilst veteran Rikki Clarke, who returned to Surrey from Warwickshire in 2017, has been a revelation with bat, ball and as a reliable slip fielder.
The signing of Morne Morkel as a Kolpak player gave Surrey an undeniable boost when he first appeared in the fifth match of the season. He has since taken 50 wickets at a remarkable average of just 13.96.
That Surrey have yet to call upon former captain Gareth Batty and England one-day regular Jason Roy in the Championship this season has shown the incredible strength in depth that this young side possesses.
Tom Curran, who made his Test debut for England in last winter’s Ashes series, has also been limited to just three County Championship appearances this season due to injury.
Surrey has a rich history of capitalising on periods of dominance and with this youthful core of players, this Championship title might be the first of many for the current squad.