Surrey have boosted their survival bid in Division One of the County Championship with a 226-run win over Warwickshire, who now have relegation problems of their own.
The visitors took the final nine wickets on Day Four as the Bears fought hard to force a draw at Edgbaston. Victory leaves Alec Stewart’s men well clear of the bottom two, leapfrogging Warwickshire in the process.
The hosts lost wickets at regular intervals and were made to pay for their out-of-form middle order and difficulties with the ball on Day Three.
Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose put up good resistance from a strong Surrey bowling attack, batting for long periods of the day under heavy pressure, but couldn’t save the day. Opener Varun Chopra and nightwatchman Chris Wright began the day, hoping to recover from the early loss of Ian Westwood in the two overs yesterday evening.
The pair started brightly, taking advantage of the gaps in the aggressive Surrey field. A lapse in concentration was responsible for the first wicket of the day to fall.
Gareth Batty swooped in from mid-on and threw the stumps down at the non-strikers end after Wright had failed to return to the crease looking for a quick single.
New man Jonathan Trott came to the crease and attempted to help the side regroup from the setback. Skipper Batty came into the attack and wouldn’t allow the pair to settle in.
Pace bowler Mark Footitt bowled aggressively at the other end and was rewarded with Chopra’s wicket. The opener tickled a delivery down the legside and Steve Davies was at hand to take the smart catch.
Former England man Trott soon followed after edging an unplayable ball from Stuart Meaker, a bowler who, when fully fit, could potentially put himself in line for an England call-up with his hostile short balls and consistent lines.
Skipper Bell and an out-of-form Laurie Evans came to the middle together and took Warwickshire past the lunch break.
Evans, a batsman whose average in red-ball was in single figures, never looked convincing at the crease and seemed aware of his need for a good score. He watched his off stump uprooted by the spin of Zafar Ansari for nine from 54 balls.
Gloveman Tim Ambrose avoided the dreaded pair and looked resilient in partnership with Bell, despite having Surrey fielders around the bat for much of the afternoon. While batting solidly for almost three hours, wickets tumbled at the other end, including the huge wicket of Bell for 32.
Batty bowled with turn and plenty of bounce, proving why some claim the off-spinner has an outside chance of making the England winter tours to Bangladesh and India.
Short-leg Rory Burns pounced to take the vital catch as Bell’s inside edge cannoned the ball against his pad and looped up the easy chance.
Rikki Clarke chopped on from Sam Curran’s final over before tea and left Warwickshire’s tail exposed as they headed towards defeat.
A drop at mid-wicket by Jason Roy two balls after the interval was soon made up for as Keith Barker nicked one behind to Davies, while Patel found a thick edge from Footitt for the ninth wicket.
Oliver Hannon-Dalby lasted just one ball as Batty claimed the final wicket with an LBW to take Surrey up to third after a crucial day for the London club.