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The Surrey side of the 1950s was perhaps one of the finest county sides ever. The team won seven consecutive county championships. The team consisted of great players such as Ken Barrington, Peter May, Alec + Eric Bedser, Jim Laker, Tony Lock, Peter Loader etc.
Ken Barrington - was a hard-hitting batsman. He even managed the England touring team to the West Indies in 1980-81. On that tour there was the infamous Robin Jackman affair, which needed all of Ken’s diplomatic skills. The strain proved too much for him and he passed away on that tour with a heart attack.
Peter May - was England captain in the early 1960s. His highest test score is 285 not out. In the 1980s he was chairman of the England selectors. His godson is Chris Cowdrey who was made England captain for one match. This was a classic case of nepotism. Peter carved out a successful career in the city.
Alec Bedser - was a fast medium bowler. Even the late Don Bradman praised his bowling. Alec later became chairman of the England selectors. His twin brother was Eric.
Jim Laker - is one of the all-time great spin bowlers. He took 19 wickets in an Old Trafford test in the mid 1950s. This feat is unlikely to be surpassed. Jim later became a cricket commentator for BBC1. I must admit that I found his commentary very boring. I learnt more about cricket from his co-commentator Richie Benaud.
Tony Lock - was another spin bowler. He was Laker’s partner in crime. After retirement he immigrated to Australia.
Peter Loader - played for England a few times. As a bowler he once took 100 wickets in a season. The story goes that going into the final day of the season 4 of Surrey’s bowlers had taken 100 wickets except Peter who was on 99. Jim Laker bowled 2 feet outside off-stump in order not to take any more wickets. This enabled Peter to complete his century of wickets for the season.
Comparisons of this great team and the Surrey of today cannot be made due to the large amount of one-day cricket being played nowadays. Nowadays the job of the bowlers is to restrict the run rate. Many years ago it was to capture wickets. One-day cricket has also affected batting technique. This is the main reason why test matches rarely go into the 5th day.
Over the years Surrey has brought in quality overseas players:
Intikhab Alam – a great off-spinner. He was captain of Pakistan for the 1971 tour of England. On that tour his bowling was taken apart by a rampant Alan Knott. Intikhab later became manager of the Pakistan team.Jim Laker said that Intikhab used to hit cricket balls like bullets. Intikhab’s bowling style was unique. Before every ball he used to lick his finger and dab the moisture onto the ball. This enabled him to get extra turn from the pitch.
Geoff Howarth – came in at number 3 or 4 in the batting order. He was later made captain of New Zealand. He made the tabloid press by cheating on his wife. Cricket marriages break down more often than the average marriage. This is due to the large amount of matches being played away from home. Even Ian Botham cheated on his wife Kathy with an Australian waitress.
Sylvester Clarke – was a fiery fast bowler. In any other era he would have been a test regular. But Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall etc kept him out of the West Indies test team. His bouncers were fearsome. He later joined the rebel West Indies touring team to South Africa. Even on that tour there was controversy when during a train journey he was asked to leave a compartment as it was reserved for whites only. I think Sylvester passed away a few years ago.
Tony Gray – was another top West Indian fast bowler who should have played more times for his country.
Saqlain Mushtaq – is another world class leg spinner. He made the Pakistan team at 17 and stayed there. He has already made over 100 international one-day appearances despite being in his early 20s. He is so important to the Pakistan side that if the opposition side subdue Saqlain’s bowling then Pakistan is unlikely to win that match.
Other famous Surrey test players include John Edrich, Graham Roope, Bob Willis, Alan Butcher, Pat Pocock etc.
John Edrich – was a great defensive opening batsman. His highest test score was 310 not out. His judgement of the line of the ball is unsurpassed. He knew where his off-stump was and allowed the ball to just pass it. This meant that in a typical over 4 balls would miss the off-stump and 2 balls which were off line would be hit for 4 runs. My favourite innings of his was in 1971 against India when he batted all day for 62 before being caught behind off the last ball of the day. John later became a batting coach to the England team when Ray Illingworth was chairman of selectors.
Graham Roope – was a great fielder at slip. He also was a useful middle-order batsman and occasionally bowled off spinners. He is best known for batting with Geoff Boycott at Headingly against Australia in 1977 when Geoff hit his 100th century. Graham’s hair had a lovely perm to it.
Bob Willis – started his career at Surrey before moving on to Warwickshire. He suffered with a great number of injuries in his early years. I think he took over 300 test wickets. His middle name is Dylan in appreciation of his idol the singer Bob Dylan. After retirement he moved into cricket commentary. I do not think that he has the right voice for commentary. He had a lovely feud with Phil Edmonds of Middlesex a few years ago. He later confessed to cheating on his wife with his secretary.
Alan Butcher – was a fine opening batsman. He only played the one test against India in 1979. He is best known as the father of current test hero Mark Butcher who scored 173 not out this week. This innings won the 4th test match against Australia. Cricket ability may be is passed through the genes.
Pat Pocock – is known as Percy throughout the game. He was a lovely off-spinner but suffered with splits to his spinning finger. His height gave the ball perfect flight. Even Imran Khan found it difficult to read Pat’s bowling. Pat did not achieve much success at test level.
Surrey’s home ground is the Oval, which is situated in Kennington. There is a gasholder behind the ground. The playing area is huge.
The pitches are probably the fastest in England. A few years ago the Surrey groundsman travelled to Australia to see why their pitches are so bouncy. He relaid the pitches using the Australian way and produced some lovely pitches. Bouncy pitches help slow bowlers as well as the quicker ones.
Ex premier John Major is the current President of Surrey.
I believe that Surrey won the Division 1 Championship last season.
The current squad includes Alistair Brown, Mark Butcher, Mark Ramprakash, Alec Stewart, Ian Ward, Adam + Ben Hollioake, Saqlain Mushtaq, Ian Salisbury, Alex Tudor, Martin Bicknell, Ed Giddins etc.
Alistair Brown – has scored a lot of runs in one-day cricket. He was picked for England, scored a century and was never picked again. There is a moral in that story somewhere.
Mark Butcher – is the current hero of the England team. He hit a magnificent century this week to defeat Australia. He was married to the sister of Alec Stewart but that marriage broke down. He turned to alcohol and is just getting his life sorted out. At the beginning of this season he was out of the first team. But due to an injury he was drafted into the first team, scored runs and was picked for England. The rest is history.
Mark Ramprakash – is one of cricket’s enigmas. He is a world class destroyer of bowling at county level. But he looks tense at test level. He spent his entire career at Middlesex before joining Surrey this season. He has only scored one test hundred. Ian Botham has argued that Ramps has been given his chance at test level and has failed. Perhaps Ian is right.
Alec Stewart – will be remembered as cricket’s superman. He simultaneously captained his country, opened the batting and also kept wicket. There is so much to write about that I actually wrote a complete Ciao opinion on him.
Ian Ward – played in the first 3 tests this summer. He failed to get a good score under his belt. But he has the right temperament at test level. His fielding was a little poor though.
Adam Hollioake – should have been more successful than he has been. He learnt his cricket in Australia and is a fine all-rounder. He captained the England one-day team to victory at Sharjah. He was dispensed with too soon. He is a great at man management. But he can be found wanting under pressure. In the World Series Cup final against Australia he missed a simple catch due to the pressure of the situation. I hope he still has a future at international level.
Ben Hollioake – is the younger brother of Adam. He made a sparkling 50 against the Aussies in 1997 in a one-dayer. He also nearly hit a century in a one-day final in the same year. He has all the talent in the world but there may be doubts about his attitude. He certainly ought to be in the England team by now. But he still has time on his side.
Ian Salisbury – is the best English leg-spinner around at present. He made his test debut in 1992 against Pakistan. He is a determined lower order batsman. But he has too many off days. When his bowling is not accurate he gives many runs away. You cannot afford to do this at test level.
Alex Tudor – is another natural talent. As a nightwatchman he scored 99 not out against New Zealand a couple of years ago. His bowling is fast and improving all the time. He gets advice from Curtley Ambrose who is an all-time great. For some reason he is injury-prone which he has to sort out. When fully fit he is a must for the test team.
Martin Bicknell – has had a great season. There were rumours of him being picked for England this season. He has played a few times for England. He can throw the bat at the end of an innings. I feel that he is too good for county cricket but not good enough at test level. He has a brother Darren who used to open for Surrey.
Ed Giddins – joined Surrey from Sussex where he was sacked and suspended due to drug taking. Ed played a couple of times against Zimbabwe last year. He is a useful medium pace swing bowler.
The one-day team is known as the Surrey Lions.
This Surrey team can field eleven internationals if it wants to. Not many counties can boast that.
i've supported Surrey for the past 10 years (i'm only 19 as it is) and have to admit the club (on a county championship) level have detiriorated somewhat - although their one day (especially twenty20) potential is vast - of course now, the late great Ben Hollioake will be forever missed ..... a talent taken in his prime !
nikki_leeds 23.08.2001 23:13
A great op. The current line up looks like the England team.
Simoncook1 23.08.2001 22:13
very good opinion; the other side that was excellent in the 50s was Yorkshire; it's nice to see them winning (perhaps!?!?!) a championship again!