Surrey captaincy debate November 7, 2003

Batty appointment unearths unrest at Surrey

Wisden Cricinfo staff

In recent years Surrey have been tagged with being the Manchester United of domestic cricket, with trophies regularly heading to The Oval and big-name signings announced to the consternation of their financially less able rivals.

But in 2003 cracks began to appear. The Championship title, which seemed to be Surrey's at the start of August, was eventually meekly surrendered to Sussex, and there were indications that the cost of maintaining a high-profile squad was taking its toll on the balance sheet. By the end of the summer they had shed Alec Stewart, and Ian Ward had moved on.

Now it is reported that the appointment of Jonathan Batty as successor as captain to Adam Hollioake, who will retire at the end of 2004, has caused unease among senior players in the Surrey squad. Their concern is not that Batty isn't up to the job, more that he isn't up to combining the duties of opener, wicketkeeper, and skipper.

Ward had been considered as the favourite to take over from Hollioake, and many close to the club were surprised when it was announced that he was being released as Surrey could not afford to keep him. He subsequently signed for Sussex. That the management could treat an established player in such a way left many players deeply unhappy.

Publicly, Batty is supported by the side after a clear-the-air meeting with the county's management. Privately, the position is less certain, with reports in newspapers quoting unnamed sources inside the dressing-room as saying all is not well. Aside from the issue of the captaincy, there is believed to be unease about the selection policy for matches which was the subject of widespread criticism last season.