Latest News | Surrey Dream Team from Times Online via Adam Hollioake
Surrey dream team from Times Online via Adam Hollioake
My greatest Surrey XI spans the ages, in keeping with the club’s distinguished history. It is, however, a peculiarity that only three players were born in Surrey – Stewart, Lock and Richardson - while three hail from Reading and those – May, Barrington and Alec Bedser - all from the side that won seven successive championships in the 1950s. The formidable top order, with a wicketkeeping all-rounder, makes the weak tail an irrelevance, but it must be assumed that Bedser and Jim Laker are playing under their contemporary laws permitting more fielders on the leg side. The comparisons were fiendishly difficult and all we are left with for certain players is statistics and anecdotes; fortunately cricket relates these particularly well.
1. Jack Hobbs: Any player known as “The Master” has to be first on the teamsheet. His total of 197 centuries is only so low because of the First World War and it is a mark of Hobbs’s technique that he scored half of his hundreds after passing 40. Hobbs sharpened his eye, like Don Bradman, by practising his batting with a stump as a child and would have been included in Essex’s all-time XI had the county not spurned the chance to give him a trial.
2. John Edrich: Andy Sandham would have been a familiar partner to Hobbs but Edrich brings a left-hander to the line-up and much more besides. The batsman, knocked out by a ball from Peter Pollock in 1965, had a hand and two ribs broken by Dennis Lillee in a harrowing 1974-75 tour but resumed his innings in both instances. By never backing down in the pre-helmet era, Edrich, who averaged 48.96 against Australia to go with 29,305 runs for Surrey, earned the hard-won respect of Lillee and Jeff Thomson.
4. Peter May: As straightforward a selection as Hobbs, his very name evokes images of stylish batsmanship and impeccable conduct. May captained Surrey to their final two championship triumphs in the run of titles from 1952-58 and enjoyed success in the role with England. Acclaimed by Richie Benaud as the only great English batsman to emerge since the Second World War, May finished with a first-class average of 51.00 and was commonly regarded as one of the best bad-wicket and on-side players ever.
5. Ken Barrington: It has been said of Barrington that he seemed to walk out to bat with a Union Jack trailing after him and his Test record bears out the statement. “The Colonel” averaged 41.28 for Surrey compared with 58.67 for England, a figure surpassed only by Herbert Sutcliffe among those to have played more than 20 Tests. It is, therefore, easy to forget that Surrey recruited Barrington as a leg spinner and he had a first-class bowling average of 32.61. Barrington died while serving his country, as assistant manager on the 1980-81 tour to the West Indies at the age of 50.
6. Alec Stewart: Is it any coincidence that Stewart began his Surrey and England careers in struggling sides and left them in rude health? “The Gaffer” - who earns selection as wicketkeeper above Herbert Strudwick, a Surrey servant of 60 years - carried himself with an authoritative air even in adverse circumstances and would have averaged higher than 39.54 for England had he not been such an accomplished, and underrated, wicketkeeper, playing 82 Tests in the role.
7. Tony Lock: Slow left-arm? Not a bit of it. The first Surrey spin twin from the 1950s side regularly beat batsmen for pace with an action that was a product of practising in an indoor school in Croydon that had a low ceiling. He was the first Englishman to be no-balled for throwing in a Test but remodelled his action after seeing footage of himself on the 1958-59 tour to Australia and New Zealand. Lock, who took ten for 54 against Kent in 1956, claimed his wickets at 17.41 for Surrey and held 533 catches.
8. Jim Laker: In this cricketing age of PR agents and pedalos, it is worth remembering that the off spinner celebrated taking 19 wickets against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956 with a pint and a sandwich, happily anonymous among a pub’s patrons. Laker also took all ten Australian wickets earlier that season as part of a Surrey career in which he claimed 1,395 victims at 17.37.
9. Sylvester Clarke: Selected just ahead of Waqar Younis to provide hostility, Clarke took 591 wickets at an average of 18.99 in nine seasons with Surrey. The West Indies fast bowler, with an inswinger and a bouncer that followed batsmen, would have played considerably more than 11 Tests in any decade but the Eighties. Clarke died from a heart attack at the age of 44.
10. Alec Bedser: The third bowler from the Fifties side and a true master of his craft. Bedser developed a leg cutter when attempting to stop the ball swinging into Sid Barnes, the Australia batsman who was strong off his legs. With control of movement into and away from the batsman, allied to an apparent tirelessness, the fast-medium bowler provided penetration and control. Bedser finished with what was at the time a world record of 236 Test wickets, despite missing the Second World War years, and a bowling average of 19.13 for his county.
11. Tom Richardson: They don’t make them like Tom Richardson any more. The fast bowler took 1,005 wickets in four seasons from 1894 and used to walk the four miles from his home in Mitcham to the Oval while carrying his kit. After his usual lunch of two bottles of stout, Richardson bowled his break-backs with unwavering pace and accuracy. He died from a heart attack in France at the age of 41, with drinking and weight gain possible contributory factors, but was named among the six giants of the Wisden century in 1963.
My favourite XI
1. Ian Ward: Before discovering his disconcertingly natural flair for TV presenting, Ward was the dependable base for Surrey’s championship-winning sides of 1999, 2000 and 2002 and that great team began to break up on his departure for Sussex after the 2003 season . I particularly remember the opener’s 168 not out at Canterbury in 2002 as Surrey chased 409 to beat Kent by two wickets, having been 208 for seven.
2. Douglas Jardine: Our paths never crossed at the Oval, granted, but what cricket-loving schoolboy could fail to be fascinated by an England captain whose strategy provoked a diplomatic incident, and that earns Jardine an indulgent selection. I have also used a little licence with deploying the middle-order batsman as an opener on the basis that he performed the role for England in a certain Ashes series in 1932-33. Would Jardine consider taking advice from the brash, Australian-born Adam Hollioake, a team-mate in this line-up?
3. Mark Ramprakash: Even in his late thirties the intensity burns strong. Witness the height his bat bounced in the Brit Oval dressing-room after a dismissal against Kent this season – in a Twenty20 game. There is always an air of inevitability about watching The Rock of Kennington build his innings.
4. Monte Lynch: Narrowly edging out David Ward in the battle of my favourite middle-order biffers, Lynch was an endearingly uncomplicated batsman. He earned three England one-day international caps in 1988 and cult status at the Oval with his blasts over mid-wicket. Graham Thorpe, whose style could barely be more different, is unlucky to miss out; with England benefiting from most of the innings for which I remember him.
5. Alistair Brown: As modest and self-effacing as his batting is brutal, “Lordy” has brought many hours of entertainment to Surrey regulars. Certainly any supporter at the Oval on June 19, 2002 would concur after witnessing his innings of 268 off 160 balls against Glamorgan in the C&G Trophy. Brown’s technique, all bat-speed and follow-through, cannot be coached and to top it all he could be supremely watchful when necessary, evinced by his 50-plus average in Surrey’s championship-winning seasons of 1999, 2000 and 2002.
6. Alec Stewart: Like Barrington, Stewart’s pride in batting for his country was clear to see. When England were dismissed for 46 in Port of Spain in 1994 it was Stewart who took the fight back to West Indies with a pair of centuries in the next Test and, exhibiting the timing that was a feature of his batting, the wicketkeeper celebrated his 100th Test with a century on the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday. Not a universally popular player, “Stewie” always enjoyed vocal support from my father.
7. Adam Hollioake: The man who put the swagger back into Surrey. Hollioake moulded a disparate group of talented individuals into a side that won the championship three times in four years. The 2002 triumph came six months after his brother, Ben, died in a car crash and the tragedy inspired a spectacular response that season. As I watched the all-rounder thrash 117 not out in 59 balls in the C&G Trophy quarter-final at Hove, it was hard to believe that two days earlier he had spoken at Southwark Cathedral in a service remembering his brother.
8. Ben Hollioake: A talent too great for a life so short. Hollioake made batting look ridiculously easy at times and the fact that he scored his first championship century in his last match at the Oval, after two half-centuries in the previous four-day game, hinted at a breakthrough before his death in Perth in March 2002. I heard the news while watching England in Wellington and my abiding memory of the all-rounder is of him skipping down the Lord’s pavilion steps with Surrey struggling against Gloucestershire in the 2001 B&H Cup final and proceeding to stroke a decisive 73.
9. Martin Bicknell: There is no sport that matches cricket for its ability to impart indelible images and the sight of Bicknell in delivery stride, black hair flapping and head rocking back as if to implore the heavens for a snick to slip, is one of the most memorable of the past two decades at the Oval. Also an accomplished batsman, Bicknell’s worth has been highlighted by Surrey’s bowling struggles on his retirement.
10. Ian Salisbury: Forget the cliche about his “one four-ball an over”, “Sals” has been invaluable to Surrey over the past decade and is always a joy to watch. Before Shane Warne brought leg spin back to a TV audience, I recall being fascinated by Salisbury’s bowling at Hove and looking on anxiously from the Compton Stand in 1992 as the debutant held his nerve to take three wickets during Pakistan’s run chase at Lord’s.
11. Waqar Younis: It was thrilling to watch Waqar in the early Nineties, the only disappointment being that, like the facing batsman, I frequently lost the ball as it swung in late at great pace. Century opening partnerships were often merely a prologue to a dramatic chapter in which reverse swing devastated a top order. His run-up alone was bristling with menace and the Pakistani was unique in using yorkers as a form of toe-threatening physical intimidation. Waqar at his best, taking 113 championship wickets in 1991, was a force of nature.
Adam Hollioake with the 1999 County Championship Title