Reaching 2021 has given us the opportunity to mark the 50th anniversary of Surrey winning the County Championship in 1971.
After the glorious 1950s, the following decade had been hard slog for Surrey. But captain Micky Stewart was determined that the team he had patiently rebuilt would reach the summit again and they finally made it in 1971. Edging out Warwickshire by virtue of winning 11 matches to nine, Surrey secured the title with six bonus points in the final match of the season, against Hampshire at Southampton.
Richard Spiller takes a look at the squad who rose to the summit, starting at the far left of the back row on the above photograph.
Successor to Andy Sandham as scorer, he recorded each ball of Surrey’s season and carried on doing do for another decade before retirement from the post.
Capped the previous year after working his way through the ranks, seamer Robin Jackman was a man for all occasions, happy to bowl even when conditions offered him no help. Jackman went on to claim 1,402 first-class wickets at 22, including 59 that season, going on to play four Tests and 15 one-day internationals before retiring in 1982. He later became a highly accomplished television commentator on the game. Died in December 2020, aged 75.
Left-handed strokemaker, Younis brought flair to the Surrey middle-order in a career which incorporated four Tests for Pakistan spread over almost 18 years. A first-class haul of 26,073 runs was also shared with Worcestershire, Glamorgan and South Australia, 1,326 of them coming in the Championship success.
The left-arm spinner, who had made his debut in 1967, claimed 35 wickets in the first half of the season. He switched to Sussex in 1974. Waller went on to claim 630 first-class wickets before retiring in 1985, returning to Surrey the following season overseeing the second team. A post back at Sussex followed in his lengthy coaching career.
Seven appearances, mainly filling in for the absence of John Edrich on international duty, saw Roy Lewis contribute to the title run. He played 38 first-class games for the county between 1968-7, also making 24 List A appearances. Lewis was also a key player for Spencer over many years.
Having only made his first-class debut in 1969, Bob Willis was a surprise call-up as an injury replacement to England’s tour of Australia in 1970-71, helping Ray Illingworth’s men return with the Ashes. But his place in Surrey’s side was not secure and he left for Warwickshire at the end of that title summer, helping them to become champions 12 months later. Despite persistent knee problems, Willis went on to become one of England’s great fast bowlers with 325 Test wickets over 90 Tests. He was also captain from 1982-84 and after retirement became a popular and outspoken commentator, principally with Sky Sports. He died in December 2019, aged 70.
Hard-hitting right-hander Mike Hooper came to prominence at Charterhouse School and helped Surrey win the Second XI Championship in 1968, having made his first-class debut a year earlier. He enjoyed a short career before retiring at the end of the title season to work in the City, although he made List A appearances the following year as well. Died in 2010, aged 62.
Roope’s superb reflex catching overshadowed his elegant strokeplay. Both played a considerable role in Surrey’s pursuit of the title, scoring 1,403 runs – including five centuries – and taking 55 catches, the most by any fielder in the country. A fine goalkeeper in non-league football, he was a huge asset to any bowler for his ability to convert what many might have regarded as half-chances in the slips, finishing with 602 catches in the first-class game. Roope’s 22-year career also grossed more than 25,000 runs in all formats of a career in which he played 21 Tests and eight one-day internationals. He was also excellent value as a radio commentator and overseas tour host. He died in November 2006, aged 60.
Just back from captaining Pakistan on their three-Test tour of England, Intikhab’s leg-spin proved a valuable weapon in the chase up the table after a slow start, claiming 32 wickets. Having been Surrey’s first-ever overseas signing in 1969, he offered variety to the attack and powerful hitting down the order, taking the wicket of Richard Gilliatt to secure the title and going on to enjoy a profitable 12-year spell at The Oval. Intikhab played 47 Tests, also captaining on Pakistan’s unbeaten tour of England in 1974, before going to spells as the national side’s manager and an ICC referee.
A century for Cambridge University in that season’s Varsity match underlined Owen-Thomas’s promise and the following season he just missed 1,000 runs, gaining the Young Cricketer of the Year award. But his career faded after that and he retired in 1975, retaining an involvement in Surrey cricket doing committee work.
Although his first-class debut for Surrey came in 1971, batsman Skinner made no County Championship appearances. He had to wait until 1975 before succeeding Arnold Long behind the stumps but lost his place to Jack Richards two years later. He also appeared for Guyana. Skinner has since become chairman of the African Caribbean Cricket Association.
Spearhead of the attack, Arnold finished top of the national first-class bowling averages with 83 wickets – 75 in the Championship – although the subdued nature of the pitches at The Oval meant only 24 were taken there. It also saw him named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year in the next almanack.
A master of swing and cut, Arnold could be a nightmare prospect for batsmen when offered help from conditions. He played 34 Tests and 14 one-day internationals between 1967 and 1975, moving to Sussex in 1978. After completing his career with 1,130 first-class wickets, Arnold embarked on a coaching career which has included work with England and three spells at Surrey. He remains a much-valued member of Alec Stewart’s backroom team.
A staunch figure at the top of the order who had many profitable partnerships with John Edrich, Edwards was an outstanding and brave close catcher, essential in support of the spinners. In his first-class career, which started at Cambridge University, he claimed 274 catches and scored 11,378 runs before retiring in 1974. A schoolteacher and major influence in the early days of the Professional Cricketers Association, Edwards later became Surrey’s director of cricket development and, in tandem with David Fletcher, was responsible for the advance of many young players as manager of the county U19s.
An all-rounder in every sense, Storey backed up attractive strokeplay and medium-pacers with being a fine fielder. He had completed the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first-class cricket in 1966 – the only Surrey player to do so since the Second World War – and remained an essential part of the side. His 1,112 runs in 1971 included a vital 164 in the key win over Derbyshire at The Oval in September, chipping in with 36 wickets along the way. Storey left Surrey three years later but made a comeback in 1978 to help Sussex win the Gillette Cup and remained as coach at Hove until 1987.
Micky Stewart (captain)
The last survivor of the 1950s team, Stewart was determined to lead Surrey back to the top and finally achieved his aim in 1971. Retiring a year later, having scored 26,491 first-class runs, Stewart was tempted back from a flourishing career with Slazenger as manager in 1979 to revive the county’s fortunes. That led to becoming England’s first boss, between 1986-92, and the ECB’s director of coaching & excellence until 1997. President of Surrey in 1998-99, his contribution to the county has been marked by having the pavilion at the Kia Oval named after him.
Arthur McIntyre (coach)
Born in Kennington, McIntyre was a vital component of the 1950s team as wicketkeeper and played three Tests. He had become coach in 1958 and was responsible for developing the young talent which would project Surrey back to the summit. McIntyre remained coach until 1976 and finally left the club two years later. He died in 2009, aged 91, having become the oldest living England player.
A resolute opening batsman with an unorthodox technique, Edrich had been the backbone of the Surrey team since scoring centuries in each innings in only his second County Championship appearance in 1959, at Trent Bridge. His large volume of runs for Surrey did not translate into Test cricket immediately but by 1971 he had become an established part of the side which had won back the Ashes in Australia the previous winter. Edrich’s 1,718 runs at 59 came in just 16 Championship matches – missing eight through international calls – included six centuries. He took over as county captain from 1973-77 and, having played 77 Tests – one as skipper – and seven one-day internationals, retired in 1978. He had scored 39,790 first-class runs, including 103 centuries and was awarded the OBE. Edrich also had spells as an England selector and batting coach and he was club president in 2006. He died in December 2020, aged 83.
A fixture in the side since taking over behind the stumps 10 seasons earlier, Long was Surrey’s beneficiary in 1971 and his allotted match against Yorkshire was the only time they were able to bowl out an opposition side twice there, so sleepy were the pitches. Long’s 59 dismissals led a sharp fielding side, along with handy runs down the order. Vice-captain to John Edrich, he moved to Sussex in 1976 and led their young side to a shock victory over Somerset in the 1978 Gillette Cup final, retiring in 1980 to concentrate on his business career with more than 1,200 dismissals in first-class and List A cricket. Long returned to Surrey to undertake committee work.
Pocock was Surrey’s leading wicket taker in 1971, the off-spinner snaring 78 victims with a mixture of flight and guile. Having broken into the county side as a teenager, Pocock was an essential component of it for two decades, grossing 1,607 first-class wickets. A player who radiated enjoyment, he played 25 Tests sporadically over 18 years and captained Surrey in his final season, 1986. He was Surrey’s president in 2015-16 and remains passionately involved in the game.
Having joined Surrey two years earlier, Howarth was still serving a lengthy apprenticeship and made no County Championship appearances in the 1971 campaign. But his talent came to fruition in a career which saw him play 47 Tests and 70 one-day internationals for New Zealand, his astute captaincy helping to establish them as a force in the global game. Howarth’s elegant batting might well have grossed more than his 17,294 runs at 31 and another 6,016 in List A games. He was Surrey captain in 1984-85 and later on coached the Kiwi side. Awarded the MBE in 1981, it was upgraded to the OBE three years later.