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Surrey win County Championships 2022 – How did they do it?

For the second time in four years, for the fourth time this century and for the 21st time overall, Surrey win cricket‘s County Championships. 

Surrey had neither a batter in the top five for most runs scored in the season or a bowler in the top five for wicket taking.

They drew more games than title rivals Hampshire and achieved fewer bowling points than both Hampshire or fellow rivals Lancashire.

The question is, how did they do it?

One factor in the victory for Surrey was their ability to heavily outscore their title rivals and consistently pick up batting points.

Batting points are awarded based on the runs scored within the first 110 overs of the first innings, with a maximum of five being on offer for scores over 400.

Surrey picked up the most batting points of any side in Division One, 16 more batting points than second place Lancashire and 11 more than third place Hampshire.

The champions failed only once to score above 300 in their first innings, claimed maximum bonus points four times and finished the season with an average batting point tally of 3.43.

Hampshire and Lancashire, conversely, only outscored Surrey five and two times respectively, both finishing the season with average batting points below three. 

One poignant round of fixtures where Surrey pushed their winning advantage further was in game week six, when the Oval side collected maximum batting points in a draw against Kent.

Hampshire won but only collected two batting points, whilst Lancashire lost to Essex and received no batting points.

This meant Surrey did not need to rely on one batter throughout the season and were reliable for contributions across their team.

Hampshire and Lancashire had six and five centurions in their ranks, respectively.

Surrey had 11. 

Captain Rory Burns scored three hundreds, Ollie Pope brought his England form to the side and scored two, and both Curran brothers scored maiden centuries this year.

Cricket writer Patrick Hollis said: “Rory Burns has seemingly put his nightmarish spell for England behind him and has shown the rest of the division what he can do with the bat.

“When you’ve got the likes of Burns, Ollie Pope, Tom and Sam Curran to get over the finish line – you can count yourself lucky.”

By consistently outscoring their rivals, Surrey were able to further extend their top of the table lead week on week whilst Hampshire and Lancashire struggled to keep pace.

Not only were Surrey picking up consistent batting points, they were also picking up consistent points full stop.

Until the final game of the season, when the title had been decided anyway, Surrey remained undefeated in the league. 

This is important, considering the difference of points received for winning a game (16 points) and losing (zero points). 

A draw secures a useful eight points. 

By not losing, the champions set the pace which their rivals had to keep with.

Once they failed to do so, Burns’s side were in a strong position to press their title ambitions further. 

Despite winning one more than Surrey, the extra three losses suffered by Hampshire, and four less draws, would prove crucial in their aspirations. 

For Lancashire, turning two of their six draws into a victory could have been enough to turn the tide and see them as champions. 

Hollis said: “To lose just one of 14 County Championship matches in a season is impressive regardless of the players at your disposal – and the title race went down to the wire thanks to strong campaigns from both Lancashire and Hampshire, making for an exciting conclusion to the domestic red ball season.”

As suggested before, Surrey were outscored by both Hampshire and Lancashire in bonus bowling points.

Bowling points are awarded based on the wickets taken within the first 110 overs of the first innings, with a maximum of three being on offer for taking nine-plus wickets.

This difference was not as notable as Surrey’s dominance in batting points, as Surrey averaged 2.43 points per game, Lancashire 2.79 and Hampshire 2.64.

This meant, over the season, all the top three sides were consistently taking over six wickets in the first innings. 

Any small advantage Hampshire and Lancashire accrued in the bowling points was immediately diminished by ill-discipline on and off the pitch. 

Hampshire were docked two points across the season for maintaining a slow over rate – against rivals Surrey and Lancashire no less. 

Lancashire were docked six points because of breaches of disciplinary regulations.  

Though not defining in the long run of the 14-game season, these fines allowed Surrey even more opportunity to press the lead and win the title with a game to spare.

So, how did Surrey win the County Championships this year?

Essentially, Burns’s side was consistently good or even better than good. 

Hollis said: “Once again we saw the best of county cricket come at the Oval.

“Surrey have been head and shoulders above the rest of the division for most of the season.”

Runs were shared across the side and they were consistently able to outscore their opponents, achieving far more batting points than any side in the league.

Surrey took wickets at a similar rate to their nearest rivals and avoided disciplinary action throughout the season.

Most importantly, the champions did what any successful side must do – win games of cricket. 

Only in the final game of the season did Surrey slip up, but by that point the title was already firmly secured.

Featured image credit: HelenK, under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

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