Opposition Preview: Surrey
Opposition Preview: Surrey
Specsavers County Championship: Division 1 (2017 performance - 3rd)
Captains: Rory Burns
Head Coach: Michael Di Venuto;
Director of Cricket: Alec Stewart
Ins: Rikki Clarke (Warwickshire), Will Jacks, Gus Atkinson
Outs: Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Kumar Sangakkara (retired), Ravi Rampaul (Derbyshire)
Man on a Mission - Scott Borthwick. While fellow former Durham colleague Mark Stoneman won an England Test debut by the end of last summer, after the pair had moved south together to join Surrey in a bid to further their careers, it wasn’t a memorable campaign for Scott Borthwick. Indeed, quite the opposite. Borthwick’s patchy 2017 brought him just 446 championship runs at 24.77 from his 12 matches, and a mere four wickets at 86.75. For a player who is now, at 28, approaching his peak and has such a fine record – more than 7,500 first-class runs, almost 200 wickets, a Test appearance in Australia in 2013-14 and two championship-winning medals with Durham – it was a disappointing return. It surely cannot happen again.
One to Watch - Sam Curran. The younger Curran will not turn 20 until early June, but remarkably is already regarded as a core member of Surrey’s teams in all three formats. Since his debut at just-turned-17, in 2015, Curran has scored more than 1,000 first-class runs and is close to taking 100 wickets; in all cricket his tallies are double those, and he has also represented England Lions regularly and, last winter, an England XI. Expect his whippy left-arm swing and fast-maturing middle-order batting to continue to catch the eye – and increasingly to influence matches. This boy-man is both a natural talent and a natural competitor.
Local Hero - Rory Burns. It would be difficult to be more Surrey than the new captain; born in Epsom, the 27-year-old first played for the county at the age of eight and, since then, has progressed all the way through the age group ranks. Made his senior debut in 2011 and, on the back of cementing his place at the top of Surrey’s championship batting order with four successive seasons of 1,000 first-class runs or more – he scored 1,041 at 49.57 last year – he was named as Gareth Batty’s successor last winter after confirming his leadership credentials as vice-captain.
Prospects for 2018
There is a bullish mood at the Kia Oval, despite the loss of the peerless Kumar Sangakkara to retirement following the Sri Lanka legend’s 1,491 championship runs in 2017, at an average of 106.50 and with eight centuries. He was almost equally prolific in 50-over cricket. Mitch Marsh, the combative Australia all-rounder, promised to be a good fit - but now he has suffered a badly-timed injury, sending Stewart and Di Venuto back to the drawing board. Watch this space!
The team will expect top-order run-getting from new captain Burns, plus Stoneman, Borthwick, Jason Roy, Ben Foakes and the highly-promising Ollie Pope. In the absence of Marsh, they will be looking for significant all-round contributions from Rikki Clarke, Ryan Patel and the Curran brothers; additional pace from Stuart Meaker, Jade Dernbach, Matt Dunn, Conor McKerr and Mat Pillans; and good spin options from the veteran Batty and younger talents like Amar Virdi and Freddie van den Bergh.
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