CB40 win just the start for Surrey
Posted in Domestic Cricket
What struck me most in the immediate aftermath of Surrey’s five-wicket victory over Somerset in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final was how driven captain Rory Hamilton-Brown appeared in the post-match press conference.
Much of the media attention - perhaps unfairly - was directed towards opposite number Marcus Trescothick, whose Somerset side continued to live up to their ‘bridesmaids’ tag with a fifth domestic final defeat in three years.
The clearly deflated left-handed opener admitted he was “out of answers” as to how to end their woeful run in showpiece events shortly before Hamilton-Brown and man of the match Jade Dernbach strolled in.
The duo had that unmistakable scent of victory as the aroma of champagne filtered through the room.
You might expect a winning captain, whose side had also clinched promotion in the LV= County Championship earlier in the week, to give a clichéd speech before going back to enjoy the celebrations.
After all, Surrey had won their last four championship games to pip Northamptonshire and seal their place in Division One alongside London rivals Middlesex, and they were deserved winners of the CB40, having lost just one game all season.
That defeat to Durham at the Kia Oval came when Surrey were already assured of a home semi-final.
Hamilton-Brown was in no mood to gloat, however, despite registering a precious, if slightly fortunate, innings of 78 after being dropped on nought as Surrey chased down a reduced target of 186 off 30 overs following a near two-hour rain delay.
While the 24-year-old praised his players for their efforts during the campaign, he left the handful of journalists in no doubt that this was merely the start of things to come.
He said: “The way I see it a lot of change has been made over the last three years at the club. They are changes that needed to be made and this is just a start of what I think we can achieve.”
“It lets the guys know that what we are doing is right and if we keep putting in the hard work we’ve got a very successful future ahead of us.”
It was not so long ago that Surrey were in the doldrums and matters came to a head after the 2008 season when they were relegated to Division Two after failing to win a single championship game for the first time in their illustrious history.
However, Chris Adams’ arrival as professional cricket manager from Sussex in 2009 appears to have had a revolutionary effect, with this season’s outcome the fruits of three years’ labour.
Dernbach, who knows more than most about Surrey’s troubles having been at the county since 2003, believes a change in attitude has worked wonders.
“I think it’s just a mindset change. At times throughout the past, we’ve had a false understanding of where we were as a cricket side,” he said.
“We were all thoroughly decent cricketers but the results we were producing weren’t living up to the standards that we thought we were (at) so it was about getting a really big reality check.
“Unfortunately, a few people got moved on to other pastures and that’s just the development of this club in general.”
One of the players to be brought in was Hamilton-Brown, who followed Adams after a 12-month stint at Sussex for a second spell at Surrey. Just 22 at the time, there were plenty of eyebrows raised when he was appointed captain.
When asked whether this season justified him being appointed skipper, the ever modest Hamilton-Brown replied: “I don’t know; that’s not for me to decide. It’s a great club and it’s a club that deserves to win trophies and this is just one trophy.
“I think it’s the start of a long journey. We’ve got a side that has got a lot of successful times ahead so I’m not sure whether it (having a good season) justifies my job or not.”
A mature head on young shoulders indeed. If Surrey can match their captain’s application, I would not back against their renaissance continuing into the next few seasons.