Alec Stewart reaps the rewards of hard work as Surrey land County championship title

Sport360 staff 20:26 13/09/2018
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Coach Alec Stewart had nothing but praise for his players

Alec Stewart reflected on five years of improvement as Surrey ended a 16-year wait for the County Championship title on Thursday.

Openers Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman laid the foundations for the tense three-wicket win over Worcestershire at Blackfinch New Road with a century stand, after Morne Morkel had set up the win with five wickets on Wednesday.

Although the bottom county made Surrey fight all the way, victory was clinched 20 minutes before tea on the final day.

And Stewart, who took over the role of director of cricket in 2013 admitted: “Things were struggling. I can’t hide behind that.

“But things don’t happen overnight and that’s where the chief executive (Richard Gould) and chairman (Richard Thompson) were very good.

“I said ‘if I’m going to come back, let me try and do it my way and if it doesn’t work kick me out – but if it does work then you can pat me on the back, even though it will be the players who have done it’.

“I said ‘give us a couple of years to get things to where they potentially could be to then move forward’ and that’s what has happened.

“You’ve got to have a Surrey nucleus to the squad. It’s almost a unique club in that you’ve got to understand the club to work there I think.

“I’m biased because I know it inside out from a young age but it is a different club to other clubs, I feel and if you understand it, you’ve got more chance of knowing how it should work potentially.

“But then it’s about appointing good people. Graham Thorpe, excellent person, Michael Di Venuto has been outstanding and then people like Vikram Solanki making the transition from player into coach.”

Stewart was also full of praise for the players, adding: “They have grown together.

“It’s a real shame Gareth Batty is not here because he has played a massive part over the last four years and is running the second team today.

“It’s nice to sit back now and watch this group grow together but the thing is they’ve got to continue to grow.

“It’s nice to have players picked for England and Rory Burns will be the next one, I’m 100 per cent certain of that.

“But it’s good to see we are getting it right on the field with Surrey and the players are being recognised at the highest level.”

Worcestershire head coach Kevin Sharp said: “It was a terrific game of cricket and it could have gone either way right to the end.

“The lads have gone toe to toe with the county champions and I’m very proud of them.

“I know it’s going to be tough now. I see my old club (Yorkshire) won today so they’ve got quite a little bit ahead of us.

“We will have to win the last two and the other results will have to go our way but we will attempt to do that – but in the meantime we’ve got something very special to look forward to (Vitality Blast finals day).”

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