Okay, now we are starting to get somewhere.
Based in London, and therefore a key rival of Middlesex, Surrey County Cricket Club was formed in 1845, made its first class debut in 1864, was admitted to the modern day championship in 1890 (its inaugural season), and won outright County Championships in 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1899, 1914, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958 (that’s seven in a row, for those counting at home), 1971, 1999, 2000, and 2002. 18 titles to Middlesex’s 12.
The club has also won five one-day competitions, most recently the brand new Clydesdale Bank 40 in 2011.
Those seven titles in a row during the 1950s are truly an amazing feat, and deserves a bit of further exploration:
In the NFL, no team has won more than two consecutive Super Bowls. Again, however, the competition as we know it has not existed for all that long, relatively speaking. The Green Bay Packers did win three straight NFL titles between 1929 and 1931.
Major League Baseball? Again, no team really comes close. The Yankees won a jaw dropping five in a row, starting in 1949. That is nothing to sneeze out, especially considering it was during a golden age of baseball, but it still falls three short of Surrey CCC’s eight.
In the National Hockey League, the Montreal Canadiens also won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 (but think there were only like six teams in the league at the time), while in English Football (both pre-Premiere League and post-Premiere League) no team has won more than three consecutive first division. (I actually find that a bit shocking.)
In the NBA, however? Yep, that’s right, the Boston Celtics won eight in a row starting in 1959 (wow, the 50s were a utopia for dynasty fans.) The Celtics actually 11 titles in 13 years which really makes it slightly more impressive than Surrey accomplishment, but I am not sure of the quality of the league in that period, as the NBA as we know had only been around for eight seasons when Boston’s run began, so I am giving the edge here to Surrey.
Surrey has played the vast majority of its home matches at The Oval, in Kennington:
The ground went through a massive renovation in 2005, which included the construction of the OCS stand seen in the middle picture above.
It regularly hosted football matches in the late 19th century, and was actually the host of the first ever international football match (England v Scotland in 1870). It even hosted FA Cup finals for 20 straight seasons from 1872 through 1892.
Regrettably, however, it is now known as the Kia Oval. Le Sigh. Somewhere, David Foster Wallace is grinning.
Stuart Surridge was the club captain for five of the seven consecutive titles, but Wikipedia, in a rare show of subjectivity, gives credit instead to the cricketers playing beneath him, rather than to the captain. The same entry did point out that he was a defensive minded captain, that his key philosophy was that “catches won matches”. I think a lot of current cricket teams could be well served by that simple strategy.
Jack Hobbs scored the most first class runs for the club, with 43,554 from 1905-1934. Tom Richardson took the most first class wickets, despite only playing for the club for 12 years (1892-1904).
In fact, in just four seasons, Richardson took 1,005 wickets, and along with Hobbs, was chosen by the Wisden Cricketer as one of the “Six Giants of the Wisden Century”.
The club’s current squad features a who’s who of English cricket: Kevin Pietersen, Jade Dernbach, and Chris Tremlett.
In so many words: that’s Surrey County Cricket Club.
And I am really starting to look forward to the County Season…
On the pitch: Not a whole lot going on. The first test between South Africa and Sri Lanka starts tomorrow, which means I will have a test to follow here at the office: good news. Also, the second test between Bangladesh and Pakistan starts on the 17th and will again be live on ESPN3.
Meanwhile, I will just wait with bated breath for the Boxing Day test at the MCG.
Also, today, on the Internet: Dravid calls for the ICC to explore day-night tests. Worth a read.
Until next time.