If ever there was a day for inconsistency in a game of cricket, the third day of the County Championship match between Surrey and Warwickshire at Guildford was it. One good Surrey session was overshadowed by two disastrous ones, the hosts ultimately succumbing to a ten-wicket defeat.
After Jonathan Trott’s magnificent 123 on the second day, Surrey faced an uphill battle if they were to salvage anything from the match. And there were times during the day where it looked plausible that they might be able to take the five points for a draw.
After the loss of Arun Harinath just before lunch, the afternoon session saw a somewhat sluggish scoring rate, only 93 runs scored in the 33 overs bowled, but the efforts of Zafar Ansari and a particularly patient innings from Rory Burns meant Warwickshire went wicket-less.
An air of tension flooded the ground from the occasional half-chance, hopeful appeal, and outside edges through the slips that could, in recreational cricket, be called “great placement”. Throughout, Burns and Ansari were unmoved and there was potential that were they to bat out the remainder of the day, the hosts would be in a promising position come start of play on the final day.
A brainless capitulation of epic proportions meant that not only would Surrey not be in a good position come Tuesday morning, but that the game would not even see the fourth day.
The collapse began in unfortunate fashion as Rory Burns was walking back to the pavilion having attempted to leave one from Jeetan Patel, only for the ball to take the bottom edge of his bat and fall onto the stumps. His 68 gave Surrey hope but his exit sparked a suicidal landslide of 16 runs for five wickets.
Ansari fell to the same bowler in his following over, ballooning one up off his pads to Sam Hain at short leg.
Aaron Finch, whose 110 in the first innings enabled his new side to have any chance in this match, was next to go, a loose shot to a Rikki Clarke delivery well outside his off stump finding an outside edge. The Australian hit the first ball of his debut innings for six and an explosive display followed; second time around, the opposite was needed, and the nature of his demise was a polar opposite of all the good work that Burns and Ansari did prior to tea and a disappointing display based on his talent.
Sam Curran went in similar fashion, without troubling the scorers, before Ben Foakes left one from Patel and was struck on the pads. The finger went up and Surrey were left in total disarray at 123 for six.
A brief respite was provided as Tom Curran and Steven Davies did their best to steady the ship, forming a 26-run partnership, the second longest of the second innings. It didn’t last too long, however, as Patel found Curran’s edge and the ball looped up to Rikki Clarke at first slip.
Skipper Gareth Batty, along with Davies, tried his hardest to prolong the match as long as possible, but he departed after edging an attempted cut shot, giving Boyd Rankin his first scalp of the day.
With just over five overs remaining, Davies took the scores level, meaning that at the very least Surrey would be avoiding their third innings defeat of the season. It was a narrow escape though, as Stuart Meaker was soon bowled by a lovely delivery from Patel, giving him his fifth wicket of the innings and tenth of the match, finishing with figures of ten for 123.
Davies then holed out to fine leg on 44 and Surrey, all out for 177, had set Warwickshire a mammoth target of two runs from a minimum of 97 overs. It took only five balls for them to finish the game off, Andrew Umeed late cutting Tom Curran for a boundary as the Midlands side wrapped up a ten-wicket win.
It was Surrey’s 14th consecutive Guildford visit without a Championship win and their third successive defeat. It’s also the first time a Championship game has ended within three days at the ground since 2001 and Surrey’s first three-day defeat there in the history of four-day cricket.
A disappointing display leaves Surrey second bottom, a position that may change depending on Hampshire’s match against Durham, and with Yorkshire next for the South London side, fortunes don’t look set to change any time soon. Warwickshire are elevated to the top of the table, though again, that may change depending on other results, and their season is moving along with a much more promising outlook.
Earlier in the day, Keith Barker had helped Warwickshire increase their overnight advantage, striking the Surrey bowlers to all parts. Unbeaten on ten, he opened the day’s proceedings with a well-timed drive through the covers that ran away to the rope, and followed that up with a sweetly timed off drive and a flick off his legs, all off the bowling of Tom Curran.
Eleven boundaries came in his 70-ball 65 and Patel, who struck 31, assisted him for much of the onslaught. The pair were unable to get the visitors to maximum batting bonus points, falling four short at the 110 over mark, but the runs continued to flow.
Patel edged one off Mark Footitt and Burns, diving full length to his right, held on, before Barker tried pulling later that over and could only top edge, with Harinath taking a good catch running away from the middle.
Rankin was the last man to go, chipping straight to mid on off Footitt, and by that time the visitors had put on 104 in 78 minutes and batted Surrey out of the game. Footitt had claimed four for 57, his best figures in a Surrey shirt, but by the end of the Warwickshire innings and certainly by the end of the day, there was very little to celebrate.
“It’s always nice to win games of four-day cricket,” Jeetan Patel said after the match. “It’s so hard at the moment especially in this league; every team is really good. We played well for three days and, sure, we got the result tonight but it would have been just as sweet to win tomorrow.
“We went in at tea and [the conversation in the dressing room] was about [doing the hard yards] and eventually they pay you back. We were lucky to get Rory [Burns] when he chopped on and Zafar [Ansari] got out two overs later so the conversation that we had was perfect. It was so calm in the changing room, guys were so excited about an opportunity, and all they wanted was a sniff. If we got a sniff – if we got one wicket, we knew we were going to get two or three.
“We try to win every hour, and [if you win every hour] you’ll generally come out on top. You’re not going to win all of them, but it’s trying to break it down and be very simple with the game.”