Surrey 515 (Burns 132, Foakes 86*, Amla 79, Bess 5-126) and 228 for 6 (Foakes 42*, Hardie 40*) beat Yorkshire 521 (Lyth 183, Tattersall 180*) and 220 (Waite 59*, Overton 6-61) by four wickets
Surrey exacted satisfying revenge for their defeat against Yorkshire in the Vitality Blast quarter-final with another nerve-jangling victory, this time in the Championship, as they completed an immaculately-judged pursuit of 227 in 44 overs by four wickets with three balls to spare at North Marine Road.
Hardie was thrilled at his first experience of Championship cricket. “To come here today and win was a bit of a dream,” he said. “Everything had to go perfectly to plan, and it pretty much did. Our plan was to take it deep because we knew we’d be the ones driving the game. It worked.”
Surrey needed this victory to consolidate their position at the top of the Championship after Hampshire had won earlier in the day. If Hardie had departed early, they might have settled for the draw and Foakes, dropped back down to No. 7, would have been charged with organising it. But victory leaves them 15 points ahead of Hampshire with five matches remaining, Lancashire now a distant third, their hopes fading.
As for Yorkshire, they had shared in a memorable struggle despite a colossal list of absentees, but their second defeat of the season (made worse by the docking of two points for a slow overrate) sends them to Taunton next week fearing they might yet be dragged into a relegation fight. They have taken every game into the final session but have not won since their opening match against Gloucestershire.
Not that they had many options. With the West Indies quick, Shannon Gabriel off the field initially because of a hip injury sustained in the field, his presence was delayed until the 20th over. In that time, Surrey lost Ryan Patel, who paid for a wind-up at Steve Patterson, and Hashim Amla, an uppercut against Jordan Thompson which flew to third man. The catcher was James Wharton, shortly after he had passed a concussion check after being struck on the helmet at short leg by Overton. Standing at short leg when Overton is swinging is nobody’s idea of fun.
Overton and Will Jacks were pushed up the order, leaving Foakes in reserve. Overton clubs sixes even when his bat is barely in the same postcode and Bess suffered more than once, but Thompson befuddled him with a back-of-the-hand slower ball, leaving Surrey 106 short with 20 overs remaining.
Gabriel’s contribution caused a tremor, but only a short one: 2 for 18 from three overs. Jacks pulled him for six, but then fell lbw – unfortunately so as the ball struck him outside the line. There was no doubt about Jamie Smith’s dismissal as Gabriel plucked out his off stump. Short-term overseas signings face quite a task to hit the ground running, and problems in the second innings and 16 no balls in the match told its own story.
Surrey’s assault on Bess with 43 needed from six overs shifted the match their way. Both Hardie and Foakes swept him for six. With 35 overs behind him in the first innings, and the need to pull off several goalkeeping dives off his own bowling, he was a weary, sweat-soiled figure by the time he was withdrawn from the attack with four overs remaining.
Yorkshire had a 71-run lead banked overnight with eight second-innings wickets left. The loss of two wickets in the penultimate over the previous evening had left them vulnerable and a dank morning suggested that an inexperienced batting line-up were even more up against it. For Yorkshire supporters, it was a folded-arms sort of morning as they sat back, demanding the best but fearing the worst. They were proved right – but had to wait til after half-past six to say they’d always known as much.
Only 18 overs into the day, they were 123 for 6. Surrey sensed the game was theirs – and in time for their gaggle of supporters to catch the 5.30 back to London. Those first four wickets fell to lbws, to four different bowlers, as Surrey bowled at the stumps, seeking a bit of seam and indifferent bounce. George Hill, dropped at cover, limped off as Overton had him lbw on the boot. There was a brief interruption for bad light but Will Fraine fell to Dan Worrall immediately on the resumption. James Wharton and Will Luxton were then caught on the crease as Tom Lawes and Hardie maintained the approach.
Surrey could not be reliant on a second new ball to finish off the Yorkshire innings – by then there would have been fewer than 30 overs and a successful chase would probably have been beyond them. As Waite assembled a stand of 52 with Tattersall, the imperative for a further breakthrough was clear. Jacks had bowled only five overs of offspin in the first 58 – lightly used compared to Bess, his Yorkshire opposite number, but his first ball brought dividends as he turned one to end Tattersall’s vigil.
Thompson unsuccessfully tried to shift the equation away from Surrey with a quick salvo, but Overton was hitting his straps for the first time in the match and he claimed Thompson and Patterson in successive balls.
With the lead 193, some sort of last-wicket resistance was essential for Yorkshire and Gabriel, for all his hulking presence, came to the crease at No. 11 with a first-class average of 5.17 and a top score of 20. Waite attacked in selective fashion. He was put on his backside as he dug out an Overton yorker, but he hooked him resoundingly to reach a maiden Championship 50. They added 32, and were beginning to scent safety, when Overton had Gabriel caught at the wicket for his sixth wicket. Surrey had time – but only just.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps