ADAM Hollioake has hailed Surrey’s Championship winning side as one capable of dominating the English game for the next decade.
The Brown Caps have decimated Division One opposition this season, romping to the title with two matches remaining.
It was the county’s first title in 16 years but Hollioake – who won three Championships as captain and nine trophies overall during his time in charge at the Oval – believes the 16-year wait they suffered before this triumph is unlikely to be anywhere near as long next time.
“Phenomenal,” Hollioake tells The Cricket Paper when asked for his view on Surrey’s season.
“They’ve just ripped it up. Alec Stewart has done an unbelievable job. You take his experience and his love of Surrey and you have two priceless ingredients. He has made some astute signings, too.
“The only thing that does concern me is that all these great players will be spending more time with England than Surrey over the next few years.
“That was a situation we had. During 1996 and 2003 we had to deal with losing four or five players to England for most of the summer. And that was just the full England side, let alone England A or the Lions or U19s.
“Alec knows that that’s a challenge but I’d be astonished if someone of his calibre didn’t have a plan in place to deal with that.”
It’s quite some turnaround after one of the most tumultuous periods in the county’s history.
The death of Tom Maynard in June 2012 shook the club – and county cricket at large – to its core.
Surrey then suffered the ignominy of relegation to Division Two the following season.
Now, five years on, the title rather than the drop has been dominating the thoughts of Surrey members since the start of the season. The performances of the likes of Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and Morne Morkel have turned it into a procession.
Hollioake is no stranger to tragedy, having lost his brother, Ben, in 2002, and also former team-mate, Graham Kersey, in the winter of 1996/97.
And the former England all-rounder – who is now the assistant coach for the Brisbane Bulls – believes that Maynard’s death has served to galvanise the county.
“Those tragedies generally go one of two ways – and I’m not even sure if it’s within human power to work out which way,” says Hollioake.
“Tom’s death does seem to have been the catalyst for the county to re-focus and build a team of guys who have gone out and really shown everyone what they’re capable of.
“We did the same in 1997 after Graham Kersey died – we dedicated a lot of success to him. I’m not sure if the guys have done that with Tom but it certainly seems to have sparked some kind of turnaround.”
Some of Surrey’s cricket this season has been simply breathtaking.
In short, it’s a side in Hollioake’s own image. So would he and his brother Ben have enjoyed playing in this side?
“We would have been in the Second XI wouldn’t we?” he laughs. “I’m not sure either of us would have got in the first team this season, they’ve been awesome.
“The Currans have been sensational. I’m fortunate that I know quite a lot of them individually. I was with Sam over the winter with the Lions and also did some work with Amar Virdi, too.
“I also got to present Jason Roy with his 50th ODI cap in the summer and I pop in to say hello whenever I’m in London.
“They’re a good bunch of kids and they’re coming to a good age.
“Success usually comes with maturity but these guys are way ahead of the curve.
“We could see these boys dominate the Championship for the next ten years.”