Stewart Storey's double year - Kia Oval Skip to main content

The last Surrey player to do the double in a first-class season – scoring 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets – is Stewart Storey, who achieved the feat in 1966.

Richard Spiller looks back 55 years to that summer.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Stewart Storey’s finest hour has been overshadowed by history.

Mention the year 1966 and most people – whether they were alive or not then – will automatically think of England’s World Cup triumph at Wembley.

Cricket, not for the last time, had to take second billing that summer and in the following spring’s Wisden Almanack the editor complained that the game “seems to be flourishing everywhere except in England”. He added that “the standard of English first-class cricket has never been so low”.

That had plenty to do with West Indies inflicting a 3-1 defeat in the five-match Test series, Garry Sobers and his men overcoming a home side who fielded 24 players and had three captains, only redeeming themselves when Brian Close took over at The Oval and supervised a victory by an innings and 34 runs.

It was hardly a vintage year for Surrey either, even if their final seventh place in the County Championship was an improvement of one spot, Yorkshire taking what was destined to be a highlight of titles. Having reached the Gillette Cup final a year earlier, Micky Stewart’s side were knocked out by Hampshire in a last eight clash at Bournemouth.

But for all-rounder Storey it was to be the individual highlight of his career. One of only two players ever-present in Surrey’s 28 County Championship matches – double the number they play nowadays – Storey made 1,013 runs at 24 and took 104 wickets at 18, his 925.5 overs evidence of the load he had to bear given fitness problems which limited Geoff Arnold to 12 matches and put David Gibson out for the season.

“It really does feel part of the dim and distant past now,” admits Storey, who turned 80 earlier this year and lives in the West Sussex village of Steyning. “The double wasn’t something which I’d really thought about too much and in the end I just crept over the line.”

Glamorgan suffered the best of Storey the bowler that season when he claimed 5-17 and 5-22 to rout them by 198 runs at Cardiff Arms Park in mid-June. And eight half-centuries were capped by making an unbeaten 109 against Nottinghamshire at The Oval.

He went into the penultimate match of the season – against Yorkshire, who had seen their large lead at top of the table being eaten away by a Worcestershire side keen to claim the title for the third year in a row – on 99 wickets. He brought up three-figures for the only time in his career by trapping England all-rounder Ray Illingworth leg before in the first innings.

But dismissal for 15 in Surrey’s only innings of a rain-affected match – Illingworth gaining revenge by trapping Storey in front for 15 – sent Storey up to Old Trafford on 976 runs. Losing the opening day of the match to textbook Manchester weather did not help but after Surrey won the toss and batted, Storey made 37 out of a fifth-wicket stand with Ken Barrington (117no), reaching his goal off Brian Statham before being bowled by the great England speedster.

Not since Freddie Brown in 1932 had a Surrey man completed the double, although he draws even greater pride in being the first professional at The Oval since Bill Lockwood 66 years earlier to make it.

Looking back, he reflects: “We had an experiment that season that season where the first innings in some Championship games was limited to 65 overs. Sometimes Micky put me on at one end and I just kept going.”

That overs limitation, aimed at livening up three-day matches, made the job of middle-order batsmen like Storey to build an innings even harder and was condemned by Wisden’s editor as an “abomination”.

Skipper Stewart was in no doubts about the virtues of his colleague, who also snapped up 15 catches: “Stewart was a fine cricketer, a beautiful timer of the ball and very wristy. He could swing or cut the ball, just about everything in his armoury and when the pitch was doing a lot sometimes you had to persuade him to concentrate on accuracy.

“He was a superb fielder, whether close to the wicket or in the outfield. I know the England selectors talked about him from time to time.”

He was never to do it again but remained a valuable member of the side who played a vital part in Stewart’s men claiming the County Championship title in 1971, his 1,184 runs at 35 including a match-winning 164 against Derbyshire at the The Oval in the third from last game. By then a shoulder injury had reduced his effectiveness with the ball. He explained: “I damaged it in pre-season by landing on concrete when we were training at the Vauxhall end.”

And he was a member of the county side which won the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1974 but that was effectively the curtain call on his Surrey career at the age of 33, retiring to run a sports shop in Horley. A one-off Sunday League appearance in 1976 was followed, though, by moving to Sussex two years later as coach, unexpectedly becoming a regular member of their side in 1978 alongside former colleagues Arnold Long – captain at Hove – Chris Waller and Arnold.

“Arnold Long called me out of the blue. The idea was for me to run the second team but they desperately needed a bit of experience in the first team in 1978, so I played quite a lot of that season and we ended up winning the Gillette Cup that year. I wasn’t meant to be playing in that but Mike Buss got injured and so I had to play.”

Storey stayed on as coach at Hove until 1987 and – when normal times return – looks forward to watching cricket again.

With such rich all-round talents, T20 cricket would surely have suited him well but a first-class career which yielded 10,776 runs, 496 wickets and 325 catches is ample evidence of his contribution.