Published: 9th November, 2018
England’s ongoing series against Sri Lanka has been a triumph for Surrey thus far, with three players donning the Three Lions for the first Test Match.
But when was the last time there was such a proliferation of Surrey talent in the national side?
To answer the question, you need to return to the Indian subcontinent, go back fifteen years and visit a small country some 1,300 miles from the picturesque town of Galle on the south coast of Sri Lanka where Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes are currently billeted with England.
Following a dramatically drawn series against South Africa that culminated in Alec Stewart’s final Test at The Oval – where he famously played alongside Graham Thorpe, Mark Butcher and Martin Bicknell – England headed to Bangladesh for the start of their winter programme.
After a seven wicket win in Dhaka, a match that featured Test debuts for both Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty, then a Worcestershire player, the series moved to Chittagong, Bangladesh’s bustling second city.
Whether at the time or in future, the England side was bursting with Surrey representation. Although Batty was dropped in favour of the seamer Martin Saggers – who is now a first-class umpire and was one of the two officials in Surrey’s recent season ending clash with Essex at the Kia Oval – the other change saw Richard Johnson, announced this week as Surrey’s new Assistant Coach, come for Durham paceman Steve Harmison.
Gareth Batty was not selected for the second Test in Chittagong
With Butcher and Thorpe providing experienced heads at the top of the order and Clarke retaining his place from Dhaka, it meant that there were three Surrey players in the side – with Guildford raised Warwickshire spinner Ashley Giles adding a geographical fourth even though he never played senior cricket for his native county.
England posted 326 in the first innings, with Clarke providing a crucial knock of 55 after Butcher and Thorpe were dismissed cheaply. However, Johnson proceeded to put in one of his finest performances at Test level, taking 5/49 as the hosts capitulated to 152 all out in 62.1 overs.
Surrey’s new Assistant Coach, Richard Johnson, was named Man of the Match for his match figures of 9/93
The tourists batted again, adding a further 293/5, with Thorpe hitting 54 and Clarke 27, to set Bangladesh an unlikely 468 runs to win. They were duly bowled out for just 138, Johnson earning Man of the Match stripes by backing up his first innings performance with 4/44 as England waltzed to a giant 329 run victory, a result that remains, outside of innings victories, the sixth biggest win in England Test history.
Graham Thorpe played another impressive innings
England would go onto dominate a three match One Day series without Butcher or Thorpe – in which Clarke and Johnson were joined by the man Johnson is now working alongside on the Surrey coaching staff, Vikram Solanki.
The winter continued with a short One Day series and a one-off Test in Sri Lanka, at Galle, where England secured a battling draw. Whilst Clarke missed out, he was replaced by Batty, who lined up alongside Butcher, Thorpe and Johnson, once again giving the modern day Surrey setup four representatives in the match.
Butcher’s two watchful fifties proved crucial to England’s ability to bat out time to secure a draw, an endeavour also assisted by Batty’s 26 from 70 balls and Johnson’s 35 ball three.
Mark Butcher played a vital knock later in the tour, securing a famous England draw at Galle
Surrey also had three players in the squad for the tour of the West Indies at the start of 2004, four if Batty is historically included! However, with Clarke never making it onto the field in a Test Match, the last time Surrey boasted three current players in an England Test XI was indeed at Chittagong in October 2003.
Now, when was the last time Surrey had four players in an England Test side? Tweet your answer to us @surreycricket and wait for the moment it happens again!