Surrey fell agonisingly short of pulling off a remarkable record-breaking win in a thrilling finale to the 2018 county season.
England’s domestic four-day champions were one wicket away from engineering the win on a dramatic final day against 2017 champions Essex at The Oval, in a match that had seen the hosts 410 runs behind on first innings. It would have been the largest first-innings deficit from which any side had come back to win in the whole history of first-class cricket.
Having been bowled out for 67 on the first day, Surrey conceded 477-8 but had rallied strongly in the game’s third innings. Having been bowled out for 541 on the final morning, they had a modest 132-run target to bowl at.
The great South Africa quick Morne Morkel, who retired from international cricket earlier this year, was in scintillating form in his final outing of the county season, taking 4-28 in 12 overs to almost force a memorable victory.
England Lions off-spinner Amar Virdi took 2-73 while former England limited-overs international Jade Dernbach impressed with 2-24.
With 11 required with two wickets remaining, and Essex skipper Ryan ten Doeschate and Matt Coles seemingly nudging their side towards victory, disaster struck for the visitors when a mix-up saw Coles run out and No.11 Matt Quinn left to face three balls from Morkel. He survived them and, with tension ramping up, a couple of overs later ten Doeschate hit the winnings runs to finish on 53 not out and give his side a nervy one-wicket win.
The result meant that Surrey, captained by new England call-up Rory Burns and already crowned champions in Division One of the Championship, missed out on securing an unbeaten record in 2018. They finished with 10 wins, three draws and this one defeat.
A terrific game of cricket and advert for the county game.