It speaks volumes in terms of Surrey’s strength in depth that the Oval outfit were able to turn in another impressive display against Northants, without the likes of Ollie Pope, Jamie Smith and Reece Topley, and maintain their 100 per cent home record this season.
Pope, who is averaging 64.20 this term, missed the game due to illness with Topley rested for Jamie Overton, who has only been let loose at the Oval so far.
But rarely have I seen a Surrey bowling attack opt to dispense with a frontline spinner and yet look as if they had all bases covered.
Gus Atkinson, who recorded career bests with bat and ball against Northants, had a lot to do with that.
If Sam Curran, under instruction to limit his bowling following a stress fracture to the back, had also been allowed to send down some rockets, what an attack it would have made for. He is currently playing as a batter but, with scores of 80, 33, 64 and 73, it’s fair to say he’s pulling his weight.
Most pleasing of all was seeing Rory Burns back in the runs again.
Inevitably it begs the question whether the skipper’s tone-setting 107 will have caught the attention of Rob Key, the new managing director of England men’s cricket.
Given that another of Key’s priorities is identifying Ben Stokes’ vice-captain, Surrey’s results this summer under Burns definitely won’t have gone unnoticed.
Rory Burns, Surrey v Northamptonshire LV= County Championship, The Kia Oval, 05 May 2022
After an impoverished few seasons in four-day cricket for London’s sides, proof that cricket’s a funny game is seeing both topping their respective divisions, with Middlesex also hitting the ground running in Division Two.
It would be an even funnier game if Surrey’s chairman Richard Thompson was made chair of the ECB. Not only has he been a vocal critic of the ECB in recent times, the board itself is closed to any representation from the first-class counties.
But following the withdrawal of Ron Kalifa from the running, Thompson’s name is getting mentioned again. It’s not hard to see why with Surrey’s membership numbers higher than they have ever been on top of a £5.4million pre-tax profit last year.
Perhaps more important than all that, Thompson instigated the ACE Programme, which seeks to open up the performance pathway to wider and diverse communities, in 2020.
Surely the ECB are going to get around to filling the void created back in October, when Ian Watmore stood down following England’s controversial decision not to tour Pakistan.
With chief executive Tom Harrison also expected to move on, the domestic game’s governing body could soon be rudderless.
Still, there isn’t much on the vacant chairman’s desk at the moment, apart from the issue of the domestic and international schedules, the future of The Hundred and the domestic T20 competition, the inclusion debate and the negotiation of a new broadcast deal.
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD