Writers and cricket historians alike were reaching for the reference books at The Oval this week in a bid to prove or disprove a quite astonishing record.
On Friday April 8, and after almost 130-years, Surrey went into the opening day of a County Championship match without a single capped player in their starting XI – seemingly bringing to an end a run of 2,647 Championship games when at least one capped player had appeared.
Surrey first started awarding county caps in 1884, six years before the formation of the inaugural County Championship, when their entire side (which including five amateurs) were handed their first set of modest, hand-embroidered caps of a burgundy-brown hue.
Legend would have it that at least one capped player has been selected in every Surrey Championship side during the 127 intervening years, unless of course, you know better…
Since Usman Afzaal’s release last season Mark Ramprakash remains as Surrey’s sole capped player only the playing staff and his close-season knee injury – the legacy of a charity football match appearance at Charterhouse School last November – looks set to leave them as a cap-less outfit for some time to come.
The issue of awarding county caps was raised for debate at Surrey’s annual meeting in early April when members asked officials to explain the club’s capping policy in the wake of a recent internal review.
The club’s non-executive director of cricket, Tony Murphy, explained that, under the new guidelines, players would only be considered for a cap after at least two years of consistent form and only then after recommendation by the coach or captain.
Surrey have also confirmed that, in future, all cap presentations will take place in front of the members’ pavilion at The Oval and only on County Championship match days.