The rise and rise of Rory Burns
It is the domestic circuit of a country that determines the quality of the national team. If a team performs well at the international level it is the result of good players being picked from a strong and robust domestic system. County cricket is probably one of the oldest domestic cricket structures in the world. In spite of doubts being raised over the viability of this system, it still survives. Players from all over the world have expressed their interest to play in England. Players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin have even had successful stints with counties in recent times.
Surrey is one of the most famous counties in English cricket. Jack Hobbs, Mark Butcher, Kumar Sangakkara, etc. have all played for Surrey. Rory Burns, a graduate of the Surrey academy, has been in the limelight for the past couple of years, having scored over 1000 runs in each season since 2014.
Burns has taken the reins from Gareth Batty as the captain of the Surrey team for the 2018 season. Batty had led Surrey to two County Championship titles and also three successive One-day cup finals. He felt that it was time for him to step down as the team was in good shape and the transition would be smooth owing to Burns having worked under Batty for all these years.
Burns' 219* against Hampshire as a stand-in captain was one of his most notable performances. “Surrey is a club I have been associated with from the age of 8 so I feel honoured and humbled to be in a position to lead it forward,” Burns said. He has also signed a new four year deal with Surrey that would keep him at the club until 2021.
Several experts have criticized the ECB’s process of selecting players for the national squad. They feel that many players who are at the peak of their careers are being overlooked and Burns is certainly one among them. Burns’ consistent and free-scoring abilities could have been utilized to a great extent in Ashes 2017. Tom Lancefield, a former Surrey and Glamorgan cricketer, feels that the selection process needs a major overhaul.
While Burns will lead the team in the County Championship and the One-Day Cup, Jade Dernbach will become the club's first ever T20 exclusive captain. Dernbach is known for his ability to bowl at the death in the shorter formats of the game. However, he has not been able to replicate that at the international level.
Surrey is inclined towards producing players who can make a successful transition to international cricket. They are also planning a £50 million redevelopment of their home ground the Kia Oval that will make it the biggest ground in the country.