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Banstead Cricket Club’s Rory Burns must lead Surrey’s charge back to the top flight, or so insists former England captain Allan Lamb.

A six-wicket defeat to Warwickshire last week sealed Surrey’s fate as they dropped into Division Two of the LV= County Championship for a third time in their history.

Amid the doom and gloom at the Oval the form of 23-year-old Burns at the top of the order has been a shining light in an otherwise dark season.

If relegation can have a silver lining, it is that Burns was named 2013 LV= County Championship breakthrough player of the year, beating Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance – who has been selected for England’s Ashes tour this winter – Scott Borthwick of county champions Durhan, Leicestershire’s Shiv Thakor, Sussex batsman Luke Wells and Northamptonshire bowler David Willey.

Burns, 22, said: “I am genuinely surprised to have won the award and it is a real honour to have been voted for by so many cricket fans.

“The other nominees are all players I really admire so to win the award is a huge achievement and one that I am very proud of.

“I have really enjoyed my first full season of first class cricket, I feel I have made some useful contributions and I am looking forward to building on my performances next season.”

He added: “I would like to thank Surrey for giving me the opportunity over the past year to open the batting.”

Ahead of the final game of the season against Yorkshire, Burns was Surrey’s second-top run scorer with 835, behind Vikram Solanki’s 944, at an average of 33.40.

Lamb, who won two Ashes series in the 1980s, is adamant youth over experience is the way forward for Surrey next year, with Burns at the forefront of it all.

Croydon Guardian:

Banstead man: Rory Burns with the bat continues to turn out for Banstead when his Surrey CCC commitments allow              SP30678

“Rory Burns has had a great season – I’m just disappointed that it has been set against the backdrop of Surrey being so bad,” said Lamb.

“He has got a lot of potential and it really started to show this summer. He has not done badly at all – it is very difficult getting 1,000 runs and to pass 800 in a season is a very good achievement.

“I think you have got to develop your youth and I think that is the problem with Surrey. They have brought in older players instead of bringing through the youngsters.

“For a county of their stature to finish how they have done and be playing second division cricket – it is not a good sign. They have gone wayward and the players have lost their way quite a bit.

“I know that Chris Jordan went to Sussex because he wasn’t playing so much and I think Surrey need to trust their youngsters a bit more.

“It is even more impressive that Rory has managed to thrive this season in that environment.”

Burns is just the second winner of the award, with the first recipient being Yorkshire’s Joe Root.

For more information on the LV= County Championship and this year’s LV= County Championship Breakthrough Player Award, visit www.LV.com/cricket