'Tightness' a virtue for Linley
Tim Linley may be the butt of stereotypical jokes about his Yorkshire roots, but he feels perfectly at home in a "tight" Surrey dressing room.
The 29-year-old seamer has every right to be, given his 73 LV= County Championship wickets in 14 matches this season underpinned promotion.
Such returns have made Linley, born in Horsforth on the outskirts of Leeds, an integral part of a remarkable campaign that culminated in Clydesdale Bank 40 glory at Lord’s.
In his broad Yorkshire accent, Linley, who took seven wickets in six CB40 games but did not play in the final, shared some of the jibes that have come his way with ecb.co.uk.
“‘Typical tight northerner, was brought up in the coal mines’, just the usual stuff really,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s just standard changing room banter really, so every cliché about Yorkshiremen you can think of has been said to me in the changing room.”
Linley did not seek to avoid a cliché of his own in stressing the togetherness at Surrey, a point made by captain Rory Hamilton-Brown immediately after the CB40 triumph.
Linley believes professional cricket manager Chris Adams, whom he claims has raised standards throughout the club, is chiefly responsible for that unity.
“I think our training - and Chris talks a lot about it in his interviews - and our preparation is of a very, very high standard now,” he said.
“I think that’s been reflected in our performances in the last couple of months and I think that’s one of the major differences.
“Also the fact that he’s brought the squad together; it all sounds clichéd but we are a very tight unit now and you can see that on a big scale with the whole squad.”
Adams, who took over at Surrey in December 2008 and gave Linley his first-team debut the following summer, has overseen the hard-working right-armer’s meteoric rise from the second XI cricket that sustained him at Middlesex, Northamptonshire and Sussex.
Adams backed Linley with a new two-year contract in February and his faith was well placed given his championship returns this year.
“That was a massive boost,” Linley added. “I had a few years of trialling and I felt as if I was doing alright but not really getting anywhere. But suddenly to get recognition - and it’s not just a year contract; it’s a two-year contract - was a real bit of security.
“It does say ‘actually, we think you can bowl and we think you’re going to do a good job for us’. And sport’s a great confidence game so any confidence that you pick up, whether it be from a two-year contract or a good performance, is welcome really.”
Hamilton-Brown has likewise trusted Linley in the form of responsibility with the new ball this summer, much of which Surrey have spent without England bowlers Jade Dernbach and Chris Tremlett.
“There’s been a steady improvement in my bowling,” Linley said. “Last winter I probably did put an extra yard of pace on, which has helped. But I feel that Rory really backed me when Jade and Trem got called up for England.
“He said ‘take the new ball’ and I think that’s made a massive difference to my bowling as well because in the past I’ve not really taken the new ball.
“I’ve been second change generally when I’ve played and suddenly I was opening the bowling, generally the best time to bowl. Fortunately for me I’ve done quite well.
“I do feel as if my new-ball bowling has really improved - not just from the start of this season but during the season I feel as if I’ve got better and better to a point where I feel really dangerous.
"I almost expect myself to take wickets right at the start of the innings and get us off to a good start.”
Prior to Surrey winning their last four championship games, which doubled their number of victories in the competition, they had been inconsistent - as demonstrated by an even number of wins, draws and defeats from their first 12 matches when they often struggled to bowl opponents out twice.
However, Linley traces Surrey’s end-of-season form back to beating Gloucestershire at Cheltenham in late July when two attritional bowling efforts sandwiched Mark Ramprakash’s century and set up a two-wicket triumph.
“All four of the bowling unit for that game really stuck to our plan, trying to dry up the runs if the ball wasn’t doing anything, and we did it for literally two days solid,” he recalled.
“Since that game whoever’s come in - whether it be CJ (Chris Jordan), whether it be Meaks (Stuart Meaker) - has taken on that mantle, done exactly the same, and I feel as if we’re really pulling together in the same direction and we have seen some fantastic rewards in the last two months.
“It makes such a big difference when everyone’s going in the same direction, everyone knows what they’re doing, what their role is. Then it’s just a case of us going out there and doing the best you possibly can and trying to perform that role and I think we’ve done really well.”
Linley, who is hoping to retrace steps of previous years and play for Old Essendon Grammarians in Melbourne this winter, is first taking time to reflect on his and Surrey’s achievements this season.
“It’s really nice to feel you have contributed to a greater team goal,” he said.
“We said at the start of the season we wanted to get promoted and to then get promotion and also to know personally you’ve done pretty well, I take a lot of enjoyment and pride out of that.
“It’s been a very enjoyable season and I’m going to enjoy the next couple of weeks thinking about it.”