By Neil Fissler
Ali Brown admits that the tragic death of Ben Hollioake made him more determined than ever to win a third Championship in four seasons.
Hollioake was killed in a car crash a month before the start of the 2002 season and it deeply affected everyone at the club.
Surrey had been County Champions in 1999 and 2000 before Yorkshire interrupted their winning run in 2001 but the south Londoners returned to top form in 2002.
Brown, in his benefit year, scored 1,211 runs in the Championship to help Surrey coast to the title with 242.75 points, 44.75 points ahead of Warwickshire.
He hit the ground running scoring 177 in the first innings of their opening game against Sussex at The Oval which helped them home by 10 wickets.
Brown said: “It was a very upsetting year and we put all of our energy into that year and it was our last successful Championship.
“Ben’s death focused us, it gave even more purpose to what we were doing. I remember at his funeral all I wanted to do was score a hundred in the first game.
“I asked for that at his funeral. I wanted that a lot. And that first game was against Sussex and that year they also lost a player, Umer Rashid.
“It was an incredibly emotional first game of the season. Ironically I had scored a hundred against Sussex in a friendly at the start of the year.
“And I thought I had wasted what I had asked for in the practice game but ultimately I did get a hundred in that first game.”
Brown says that a major weapon in Surrey’s armoury during their Championship success was having two top-class spinners.
Saqlain Mushtaq took 53 wickets while Ian Salisbury chipped in with 31 which made Surrey dangerous on any type of pitch.
“We knew that if the batsmen got enough runs on the board our bowling attack on all wickets was excellent,” said Brown.
“We had two very good spinners in Saqlain and Ian as well as some very good seamers. If the wicket was green we were well catered for.
“And if the wicket was spinning we were very strong. And if it was a flat wicket, especially with our spinners, we were better than most teams.”
BACK ROW (left-right):
Tim Murtagh: Seamer whose uncle Andy played for Hampshire. Now plays county cricket for Middlesex and, internationally, for Ireland
Scott Newman: Batsman now based in the Enfield area. A relationship director for a sports recruitment company and runs his own coaching business.
Rikki Clarke: All-rounder who played two England Tests. Currently with Warwickshire.
Philip Sampson: All-rounder is now working as a sales consultant for FK Sports in London.
Ben Scott: Wicketkeeper/batsman has been working as a personal trainer and assists in strength and conditioning at both Middlesex and Surrey.
Keith Booth: Yorkshireman has been the Surrey scorer since 1995 and is also a well known author of cricket books.
Neil Walker: Has worked as a physio in cricket, rugby and football and is now working for Dale Naylor.
Dale Naylor: Is now running DJN Physio’s, his own physio practice, in central London.
Rupesh Amin: Left-arm spinner. Went into the computer industry and is currently an IT support and operations technician for CH2M Hill.
Jimmy Ormond: Two-Test England seam bowler is now a PE teacher and also coaches cricket and rugby at Stockport GS.
Ed Giddins: Seamer who played four England Tests. Became a professional poker player and now runs an event management company from his base in East Sussex.
Michael Carberry: Opening bat now for Hampshire with whom he has won England Test, ODI and t20 caps.
Keith Medlycott: Former Surrey all-rounder and first-team coach has been cricket professional at Reed’s School, Cobham, and director of cricket at Purley CC.
Alan Butcher: One-Test England batsman is the father of Mark and Gary. Went on to coach Surrey and Essex before becoming Zimbabwe’s head coach.
Ian Ward: One-time England batsman. Retired to go into the media and is now part of the Sky Sports cricket team.
Alex Tudor: Former England fast bowler had two spells at The Oval and is now working as a full-time cricket coach. Is a Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) ambassador.
Jason Ratcliffe: Seamer whose father David played for Warwickshire. Has been the assistant PCA chief executive since retiring.
Ali Brown: England one-day international batsman is still working for the county and is currently coaching the Surrey 2nds.
Martin Bicknell: England seamer who became Surrey’s fast bowling coach. Left his role as chief scout in November 2015 but is head of cricket at Charterhouse School. Brother Darren also played for Surrey.
Alec Stewart: 133-Test England wicket-keeper/batsman who has worked in the media and is also the county’s director of cricket. Father Mickey played for Surrey and England.
Mark Butcher: England batsman was forced to retire with a knee injury and is now working in the media with Sky Sports.
Graham Thorpe: Heavy scoring England middle order batsman. Now working for the ECB and is a batting coach.
Ian Salisbury: Former England leg-spinner coached Surrey and is coaching at Trinity School, Croydon. Assistant coach to the England disability squad.
Nadeem Shahid: Batsman born in Pakistan is now based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a founding partner and head of sales of the website ThisIsMe.com
Mark Ramprakash: England batsman, and prolific County Championship run-maker, who went into coaching and is now the England batting coach.
Jonathan Batty: Wicketkeeper/ batsman. Cricket master, assistant director of sport and head of geology at Eltham College.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday February 12 2016