Surrey win back-to-back Championship titles…and director of cricket Stewart already has sights on making it a hat-trick


Will Jacks was halfway through an over when Surrey were confirmed as this summer’s County Championship champions – and admitted he was thrown by the enormity of being part of the South London club’s first side in 23 years to win back-to-back County Championships.

The Oval outfit had led the way all season but when Essex reeled off six successive victories the title race suddenly got interesting.

Going into last week’s final round, Essex needed 400 in their first innings at Northampton to pressure the South Londoners. When the news came through that they had only managed 211, cheers rang around the Ageas Bowl, where Surrey were taking on Hampshire.

“I was fielding over by the fans, who said Essex were nine wickets down, so we knew we were close,” said Jacks. “When I heard the cheers, I didn’t know what to do.

“I looked around at everyone. Ben Foakes was clapping. I just did a little clap, looked around and got on with it.

“I then bowled an absolute pie and for the next few overs I was terrible.”

Surrey went on to lose their final game by 52 runs, but it mattered not.

Even James Vince, Hampshire’s captain, admitted afterwards that Surrey were the best four-day side in the country in 2023.

“We knew two or three matches in that we couldn’t catch them,” said Vince.

“They have been the standout team across the whole season and they deserve to be champions.”

His opposite number Rory Burns cut a very proud figure.

The Surrey skipper said: “It feels pretty special.

“We set out to go back-to-back and the way we have done that is very pleasing.

“Especially how we have taken games on and seized the initiative in big moments. Essex pushed us all the way, there was pressure around. So, to get over the line without having to finish our job is nice.

“We learned a few lessons from 2018. The way we have played our cricket this year has been really positive.”

Surrey’s head coach Gareth Batty added: “It was a weird way to get over the line, halfway through day three, but the County Championship is set up over six months – you don’t win it over one day or one game.

“It is a marathon and you still have to still celebrate it and respect it even if you are on the wrong end of a result.”

Alec Stewart, Surrey’s director of cricket, signalled that they have no intentions of relinquishing their crown, even with key players coming and going due to various other commitments.

“Because of what we’ve coped with – the number of players we’ve provided to England – we’ve had to make sure we fill those gaps and it’s good to see our younger players come through and perform when they’ve had to.

“We showed in 2018, when we won it, that come 2019 we didn’t go about defending it as well as we could or should have done. I used the term ‘we want to attack this year – not defend it’ and we said the best side wins the league.

“The good thing is the appetite of the players is there. Certain players at certain times of their careers will want to play for England, while others will say they’ve played for England and now want to be part of the best championship side.

“Adding Dan Lawrence for next year gives us another top-class player and gives us more appetite to win it next year.

“My dad Micky still goes on about being part of the Surrey team that won it seven times on the trot.

“We have now won it back-to-back and next year we will try again. That will be the challenge.”


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