Prospects and proven internationals – the men behind Surrey’s success

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Surrey have won their first Specsavers County Championship title in 16 years, clinching the crown with victory over Worcestershire at New Road.

Michael Di Venuto’s side have swept all before them in Division One this season and are unbeaten heading into the penultimate round of matches – winning 10 of their 12 games.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five key players who have been crucial to their success.

Rory Burns

The Surrey captain has lead his side from the front throughout the season. He’s the only man to pass 1,000 runs in either division of the County Championship and is over 300 runs ahead of the next highest scorer in Division One, Hampshire’s James Vince.

Burns has been a cut above all season, leading to the deafening calls for him to be brought into the England Test side. He has four centuries and six half-centuries, with an impressive average of 68.94.

Aside from his batting, the fact that he has skippered his side to 10 wins from 12 games should not be overlooked and will only enhance his international credentials.

Ollie Pope

Ollie Pope has been in fine form for Surrey
Ollie Pope has been in fine form for Surrey (Adam Davy/PA)

Pope’s average of 75.30 is the highest of anyone who has played more than two Division One games this season and the right-hander has notched three centuries from just 12 innings.

While he has not yet hit the heights on the international scene, Pope’s been a key contributor in ensuring his county have put runs on the board.

Amar Virdi

Surrey have been heavily reliant on the off-spin of 40-year-old Gareth Batty in the recent years, so the emergence of Amar Virdi has been a big boost to Di Venuto’s side.

He was just 19 at the start of the season but grabbed plenty of headlines in the early rounds of matches. The off-spinner took his tally to 14 wickets in just three innings when he claimed six for 105 in the draw with Worcestershire in May.

His tally now stands at 35 wickets at an average of 26.65. Virdi is second only to Essex’s Simon Harmer as the leading spinner in Division One this season and his efforts have been a big factor in helping Surrey to consistently take 20 wickets.

Morne Morkel

The South African’s Kolpak signing was much-anticipated and he has certainly delivered. Having decided to call it a day in Test cricket despite still performing strongly on the international stage, many felt Morne Morkel would be lethal in county cricket.

So he has proved, racing to 50 Division One wickets from just eight matches at an average of 13.96. Morkel’s pace and bounce has been too much to handle for many a county batsman and the 33-year-old has, almost single-handedly, powered Surrey to crucial victories in the second half of the season.

He did so again in the match where Surrey clinched the title, against Worcestershire, taking five wickets for five runs in just 38 balls to set up an achievable victory target which would take Surrey to the Division One crown. It seemed fitting that it was he who hit the winning runs.

Rikki Clarke

The experienced Rikki Clarke has been a handy contributor with bat and ball
The experienced Rikki Clarke has been a handy contributor with bat and ball (John Walton/PA)

The 36-year-old has chipped in with the bat down the order, making one century and two half-centuries. But he’s been more crucial with the ball, taking 43 wickets at an average of just over 20. His best figures of the season came against Hampshire in June, where he took five for 29 as Surrey romped to an innings win at the Ageas Bowl.

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