House of Payne: Time for Surrey to back young talent
A decade ago, Surrey were the unquestioned kings of county cricket. Under the captaincy of Adam Hollioake, and during a glorious six years when Keith Medlycott was the coach, they won seven trophies – including three County Championships.
Having still not reached the age of 40, Medlycott decided it was time for a change at the end of the 2003 season, the inspirational Hollioake hung up his pads the following year, and Surrey appear to have been lacking ever since.
It hasn’t been for the want of talent on the club’s books.
This summer they had Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting and Hashim Amla at various points of the season, yet they were relegated without trace having had to wait until August 29 for their only championship win of the season.
There are extenuating circumstances.
Tom Maynard’s tragic death and the negative publicity that followed prompted a lurch in policy over the last off-season, while Smith, brought in to reinforce a professional approach as captain, returned to South Africa in April after damaging his ankle.
But there appears to have been a distinct lack of long-term planning at the Oval.
Contrast Surrey with Durham, who took the decision not to spend any of their £1.8m salary cap on overseas players and have just lifted a third Division One title in six years.
Save for Steven Davies, Chris Tremlett and Jade Dernbach, Surrey are not blessed with players in their prime, as the revolving door in and out of the Oval has spun out of control.
But there is cause for optimism. Rory Burns, 23, won this summer’s Breakthrough Player award, having been the county’s second top run scorer, while Jason Roy, 23, and Zafar Ansari, 21, should play a big part in the future.
All those have been put in the shade by 18-year-old Ashtead opener Dominic Sibley, who scored 242 in the final game of the season against Yorkshire.
After a summer in which no batsman topped 1,000 runs and no bowler got close to 50 wickets, there is no excuse for Surrey not to take a longer-term view.