Batty believes Surrey can be the ‘invincibles’ of County Cricket in 2017

Batty believes Surrey can be the ‘invincibles’ of County Cricket in 2017

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Gareth Batty believes it is realistic for his Surrey side to win every match they play in 2017.

A fifth-place finish in both the County Championship and the T20 Blast, as well as a runners-up medal in the Royal London One-Day Cup last year, established a basis for improvement.

Now, having strengthened the squad with the addition of former Durham players Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman, Batty is confident in their chances.

“You don’t go from 0 to 100 but I think it’s very realistic that we can win every time we walk out on the [pitch],” he said.

“I truly believe we can pick a team to win what’s put in front of us every single day, if we keep people fit, and if we keep our eye on the ball.

“If that equates to a Championship which, read into it as you will.”

The 39-year-old was part of the squad between 1998 and 2001, a period that saw two County Championships and a Benson and Hedges Cup come to The Oval, and he believes that squad cannot be compared to the current one.

“That team, that I was very much on the fringes of, had won everything, it’s a brave man to go against that.

“But certainly, [in the] recent past I can’t remember having a group of players where, going into the first game, you’ve got a significant number above the eleven that you pick and that have every right to be selected.

“It’s a very tough place to be from a management side but a wonderful place from a club side. We aren’t getting too carried away. I feel like we’re in a very good place.”

New changes to the structure of the Championship means that two of the eight Division One teams will be relegated this season, leaving less room for error, and Batty is sceptical over the ECB’s decision.

“I’m quite happy to go on record to say there would be uproar in the Premiership if five teams got relegated,” Batty said.

“I think we have to be very careful protecting our game. I believe we have the best first-class system in the world.

“First Division cricket is as near to the big stuff as you’ll get. Whether 25% relegation is the right thing, I would suggest that’s maybe a little bit heavy.”

There is, however, one change he welcomes which is the return of scheduling the respective competitions in blocks.

The One-Day Cup will take place in April and May, with a July final, the Blast will be played during July and August, and Championship fixtures will be played in chunks each commencing in April, late May, and late August.

With the game constantly evolving and the skillsets required differing vastly between competitions, the separation of the three formats allows players be more focused on performing in each.

Batty said: “There’s been a lot of talk about spin bowlers in England over the years and I think that is a very difficult thing to go from a four-day game and then back onto a T20.

“Blocking the way that the game is played, is a very good thing.

“It’s pretty much Championship split in two, you’ve got early season and late season, which suits us to an extent. But for the greater good, from a player point of view, I think separation is a wonderful thing.”

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