Cricket: Essex end Surrey's unbeaten run in drama
PUBLISHED: 16:10 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 27 September 2018
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Amid extraordinary scenes at the Kia Oval, Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate’s superb 53 not out from 62 balls earned his side a nerve-shredding one-wicket win as champions Surrey just failed to prevent the 2017 championship winners from chasing down a target of 132.
Morne Morkel’s 4-28 spearheaded Surrey’s brilliant performance in the field as they strained every sinew to prevent Essex from spoiling their unbeaten record in four-day cricket this summer on a pulsating final afternoon of Specsavers County Championship cricket for 2018.
Jade Dernbach and Amar Virdi also played their part, sharing the other four wickets to fall, and a wonderful finish included a crazy run out of Matt Coles when, for some unknown reason, Ten Doeschate called his partner for a third run when Coles, correctly, shouted ‘no’ as it would have left him with three balls of a Morkel over to survive.
Ten Doeschate, who hit six fours, had driven Morkel towards the extra cover boundary but Mark Stoneman dived to pull back the ball just feet from the ropes and Will Jacks, who had sprinted to support Stoneman, threw to keeper Ben Foakes with Coles stranded.
Suddenly, 122-8 had become 124-9, and Ten Doeschate was left with just last man Matt Quinn for company as he tried to get his side over the line.
A crucial leg bye, though, gained despite Dernbach barging into non-striker Quinn as he tried to get to the ball, meant Ten Doeschate kept the strike for Morkel’s 12th over and the 38-year-old took a two and a single from the second and third balls to take Essex to within two runs of victory.
That left Quinn needing to negotiate the last three balls of Morkel’s over and, immediately, he needed attention when an 88mph bouncer thudded into the grille of his helmet.
Quinn, though, signalled he was fine, bravely played down the next ball and, to the final ball of the over, saw Ryan Patel dive forward from silly point and narrowly fail to take a catch off the batsman’s glove as he fended off another vicious lifter.
It proved to be Surrey’s last chance to bring off a cricketing miracle, with Ten Doeschate turning Dernbach for the winning boundary in the next over, taking Essex to 134-9.
Ten Doeschate and Morkel sought each other out at the end to congratulate each other on a superb battle and Surrey captain Rory Burns said: “What a show for county cricket. It was an unbelievable atmosphere out there, and that’s the fight we have shown all season.
“That’s a show of our character, to come back in this match and almost get the win even after being bowled out for 67 in our first innings.”
Soon, Burns was lifting the championship trophy on the outfield, in the official presentation, and adding: “It’s just beginning to sink in now what we’ve achieved this summer. Everyone has played their part, and Morne showed again just what he has brought to this team both on and off the field since joining us at the start of the season.”
Morkel had triggered early Essex jitters by producing an absolute beauty of a leg-cutter which pitched on middle and hit the top of Murali Vijay’s off stump.
The Indian Test opener had made just two and 13-1 became 25-2 when Nick Browne drove at off-spinner Virdi and was adjudged caught at slip by Rikki Clarke, even though Sky Sports television replays suggested that bat had not come into contact with the turning ball.
Dan Lawrence lifted Virdi high over long on for six but, on 10, he was surprised by the steep bounce of Dernbach’s first ball, when the Surrey seamer replaced Morkel at the Pavilion End, and edged to Clarke at first slip.
And, in the next over, Ravi Bopara’s match to forget was completed when he was given out caught at short leg off Virdi for a seven-ball duck, to leave Essex 47-4.
Dernbach, in a sharp spell of 4-2-7-2, also forced Tom Westley (20) to edge a lifter into the safe hands of Clarke but, from 55-5, Ten Doeschate and Adam Wheater steadied Essex with some selective strokeplay.
Virdi was reverse-swept and pulled for successive fours by Ten Doeschate, who then square drove the same bowler for another boundary before Wheater swept the young spinner for two more fours.
Wheater, though, was fortunate to survive on 10 when he top-edged a reverse sweep at Virdi and saw Dernbach fail to hold on to a shoulder-high chance as he dived to his left at backward point.
But, on 11, he edged a rapid leg-cutter from the returning Morkel to second slip where Ryan Patel held on to a sharp catch.
Three balls later and it was 97-7, with Morkel producing another wickedly lifting ball to have Simon Harmer, a first innings century-maker from number eight, caught by keeper Ben Foakes for nought.
Virdi, who had borne the brunt of Essex’s efforts to chase down their target aggressively, was wisely withdrawn from the attack with figures of 11-0-73-2 and Dernbach was recalled for a second spell – this time from the Vauxhall End.
It was the irresistible Morkel, though, who struck again to pin Jamie Porter lbw for four with a near-yorker.
At 111-8, the tension around the ground – with another good-sized crowd enjoying more late summer sunshine – was palpable.
Essex had earlier taken 26.2 more overs – and 142.2 overs in total – to work their way through the rest of Surrey’s tenacious second innings after the championship winners had resumed on 477-5.
Surrey were eventually bowled out for 541 shortly before lunch and, in one over before the interval against Virdi, Essex scored the first five runs of their chase.
Essex seamer Coles, a substitute for concussion victim Sam Cook, snatched four of the last five Surrey wickets to fall, including a final spell of 3-7 in five overs, to finish with 5-123.
And Porter wrapped up the innings by bowling Dernbach middle stump for two, through an ugly heave, to leave last man Virdi two not out.
Will Jacks added just one run to his overnight score before falling for 53 in the third over of the day, edging a drive at Coles to Harmer at second slip.
But all-rounder Patel, who had resumed on 20, and Clarke took Surrey past 500 for the first time in their title-winning season, and they had added 53 for the seventh wicket when Coles angled one across Clarke from around the wicket to have him caught behind for 39.
Morkel lasted just two balls, before steering a shortish ball from Coles to gully to depart for a duck, and Patel’s near three-hour resistance was finally ended when he unluckily thin-edged an attempted leg glance to a rising ball from Coles through to Michael Pepper, the substitute keeper, behind the stumps.
Surrey may have only added 64 more runs for the loss of their last five wickets, but it was enough to set up a truly magnificent finale to the club’s memorable title-winning season.