Surrey and Worcestershire bookend table but share much in between

first_imgfeatures The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email. Support The Guardian Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest Since you’re here… Read more Cricket So the last week has seen a kind of rebirth of both sides. Surrey endured a torrid few years. They were a club in turmoil, with an unhealthy culture and struggling to cope after the terrible death of Tom Maynard, and were rebuilt by Stewart, Gareth Batty, and a handful of young, talented and hungry youngsters – Amar Virdi, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, the Currans. At New Road, Matthew Rawnsley took over as CEO at the start of the year and under Moeen Ali’s captaincy and with their own clutch of homegrown talent – Pennington, Tom Fell, Pat Brown (already being mentioned by Moeen as a potential England candidate) – they have won the T20 Blast for the first time – although Rawnsley would be quick to acknowledge that much of the credit should go to the former head coach Steve Rhodes.Stewart was keen to sing Worcestershire’s praises after the match had ended at New Road. “I hope Worcester stay up,” he said. “They also show that if you produce your own, they fight together.”Congratulations to the county champions and the T20 Blast kings of the road. The beauty of county cricket in 2018 is that it embraces them both. Let’s drink to that while we can.• This is an extract taken from The Spin, the Guardian’s weekly cricket email. To subscribe, just visit this page and follow the instructions. Topics Surrey Share on Twitter County Championship Division Onecenter_img The Spin … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on WhatsApp Worcestershire Share on LinkedIn County cricket talking points: Surrey’s youngsters deserve their title When 22 players gather in huge stadiums built for full houses in midsummer, and rattle around in late season gloom to the applause of 20 hundred-weight of empty tip-up chairs and a crisp wrapper, County Championship cricket can feel a little soulless.But not at New Road, not last week. There in full view of the glorious cathedral, that has chimed the passing of so many seasons, Surrey clinched the County Championship for the first time since 2002. It couldn’t have happened in a more perfect setting.My only previous trip to New Road was in 2001 with three friends who were then young blades doing OBO shifts for Guardian Unlimited – Lawrence Booth, Christian Ryan and Sean Ingle. Chris had organised the trip – as an Australian who was living in England at the time, he wanted to visit every county cricket ground in the country. So off we went on the train to Worcester, walked to the ground in the driving rain where play was called off without a ball being bowled. We decamped to the cinema, bought matinee tickets for X-Men and went home again. Loveliness, what loveliness? Share via Email Share on Facebook But last Wednesday the sky dawned a watery blue. The groundstaff were removing the covers by half past seven and the air had that crispness and brittle-warmth that you get only for a very few days in early September. On the river path alongside the Severn, schoolchildren with still-smart blazers trudged the heavy trudge to school. In through the gates and past the stands walked a handful of early visitors, breakfasted on enthusiasm, carrying flasks, past the Memorial Garden with plaques to Don Kenyon and other Worcestershire stalwarts, past the trees still, just, in their summer finery. With a nod and a wink to the utilitarian Premier Inn that leans over a corner of the ground, New Road was a little bit of cricketing perfection.The game itself turned into a thriller, whipped on its head by an inspired bit of bowling from Morne Morkel just after tea on the third day when he, from nowhere, eased through the gears and took five wickets for five runs in 38 balls. The fourth day had the feel of a walkover, with Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns at the crease, but Worcestershire didn’t go down without cranking up to full throttle, pushing Surrey with a wicket at each vulnerable joint, and an inspired spell by young Dillon Pennington, until Morkel finally won the match and the Championship with a hip tickle for four.A glance at the Division One table on Tuesday morning showed the difference between top of the table Surrey and bottom of the table Worcestershire to be 143 points – 47 points more than Worcestershire have actually won in the season. The difference is more even than that – Surrey is a thriving business that attracts full houses to Test matches and thousands to evening Blast games. They have big-name sponsors and pay their players a premium. /sport/2016/aug/18/sign-up-to-the-spin Worcestershire is a small club, living a hand-to-mouth existence and given regular life-support by the ECB. The money that will come in as a result of the Hundred – around £6m over five years – will keep Worcester alive until the 2020s. What happens then is the million-dollar question. Is there a place for Worcestershire, run on heartbeats, sweat-beads and shoestrings, in the new cricket reality? Can a club that floods every winter and attracts small-time support to a beautiful cathedral city survive? Cricket fans will be desperate for them to fight on and so, despite their moneybags image, would Surrey – who carry a paternalistic attitude to the smaller clubs. It was they who pushed against the ECB plans for an eight-club Hundred, and wanted greater promotion of an 18-county Blast competition.Underneath it all, the town mouse and the country mouse have deep-running similarities. Both teams encourage and tend to homegrown players. Both clubs engender a sense of loyalty – look at Surrey where Alec Stewart is back at the Oval as head of cricket, where Rikki Clarke has returned, magnificent in his broad-beamed maturity. And at Worcester, Graeme Hick and Basil D’Oliveira stayed to eke out every last run. Reuse this contentlast_img read more