ALEC STEWART reflected on five years of hard work paying off in style yesterday as Surrey ended a 16-year wait for the County Championship title.
Openers Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman laid the foundations for the tense three-wicket win over Worcestershire at New Road with a century stand, after Morne Morkel had set up the win with five wickets on Wednesday.
Although the division’s bottom side made Surrey fight all the way, the title triumph was clinched 20 minutes before tea on the final day.
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. 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.
‘It’s good to see we are getting it right on the field and the players are being recognised at the highest level.’
■ YORKSHIRE took a giant step towards Division One safety by completing a comeback victory over Roses rivals Lancashire at Headingley. The White Rose comfortably defended a target of 230 to win by 95 runs and move 14 points clear of their second-bottom opponents. Indian opener Murali Vijay, with 100, and Tom Westley, who added an unbeaten 110, helped Essex to an eight-wicket victory against Nottinghamshire.