Marcus Hook’s Surrey CCC column: Only a disastrous collapse can deny back-to-back County Championship titles

Even though the end of the road to this year’s Couny Championship title is now within sight – yes there could be some twists and turns – but, barring a catastrophe, Surrey should make it back-to-back crowns – certainly on the evidence of this week’s clash with fourth-placed Warwickshire.

The Oval outfit have been lethal with the ball in this summer’s four-day competition.

In 10 out of 12 matches the South Londoners have bowled their opponents out twice, and seven of their number are averaging less than 25 with the ball.

Other than Rory Burns’ loss of form with the bat, which I’m sure is only temporary, the majority of Surrey’s players have taken their game to the next level – so much so you would have to say this side is better than the one that claimed the title last year.

Such is the depth of their squad, they didn’t even need to field their latest overseas signing – 21-year-old Indian batter Sai Sudharsan – against Warwickshire.

Sudharsan, who averages 42.71 in first-class cricket and comes highly recommended by the former Surrey coach Vikram Solanki, who is now director of cricket at the Gujarat Titans, has been signed as cover should Jamie Smith win a call-up for England’s three ODIs against Ireland (September 20-26).

But in the background the status of the County Championship is under attack again following reports that there will be no four-day fixtures in 2024 between the second week of July and the end of August.

It would also seem that a move to reduce the number of championship matches a season down from 14 to 10 is being explored, by doing away with two divisions and making it three divisions of six teams, playing each other twice.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the 10 matches were staged in June, July and August, but the suggestion is the Championship will continue to bookend the domestic schedule.

I know a number of lifelong Surrey members who simply won’t bother to come if there are only five home games a season.

This week’s victory over Warwickshire completed Surrey’s first home and away Championship double over the Edgbaston outfit since 1957, the year things ended with a 94-point gap to Northants in second.

Someone remarked “1957, that was the year Surrey clinched the title halfway through August”, to which I responded: “You wouldn’t get that now – because we don’t play in August.”

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