Heartbreak for Lancashire as Surrey win by 6 runs
In a gripping finish, Morne Morkel’s superb 6 for 57 bowled Surrey to a dramatic six-run win against Lancashire in the pink-ball Specsavers County Championship match at the Kia Oval.
Will Jacks, the substitute fielder, took his third brilliant short leg catch of the innings as Morkel dismissed last man Matt Parkinson for 7 to bowl out Lancashire for 264 and clinch overwhelming title favourites Surrey’s seventh win from nine matches.
Morkel also hit the top of Graham Onions’ off stump in his previous over as, armed with the second new ball immediately after the final day’s first session, the giant South African paceman proved to be the difference – just – in a thrilling finale.
First, Morkel took 3 for 15 in a fierce six-over spell on the final morning, as Lancashire slid to 209 for 8 as they chased 271 for victory, and then he returned to split an heroic ninth wicket stand of 57 between Onions and Tom Bailey.
Onions made a courageous 29, including sixes over long on off both Morkel, in the first session, and then Sam Curran when the England all-rounder bowled the very first ball with the second new ball.
Bailey remained 20 not out, from 58 balls in another splendid effort, and when Parkinson was out half the Surrey team set off in pursuit of a celebrating Jacks as he sprinted wildly away towards the Peter May Stand while the other half of the team ran joyously after Morkel as he wheeled away in triumph towards the other side of the ground.
Lancashire reached the day’s first interval at 247 for 8, still 24 runs away from the win that would have lifted them from the bottom of the Division One table, with Onions and Bailey at that stage having added 38 in a stand that threatened to provide a final twist to what was a fiercely-fought four-day contest.
At ‘lunch’, Onions was on 22 not out and Bailey was unbeaten on 17 while Surrey, somewhat surprisingly, had not opted to take a second new ball when it was available at 227 for 8. Off spinner Amar Virdi had bowled 16 wicketless overs unchanged from the Pavilion End in the opening session.
A brave sixth wicket stand between Steven Croft and Josh Bohannon, which had begun under the floodlights on the third evening, had earlier eventually realised 78 in 31 overs and ended when Croft fell to Morkel for 43 in the twelfth over of the final day.
Then, in his next over, Morkel forced Bohannon to edge to second slip where Rory Burns took the catch and cut short the 21-year-old’s gutsy 135-minute effort on 32 from 97 balls.
Morkel was still not finished, striking again in the fifth over of his spell with a vicious lifter that Joe Mennie thin-edged through to Foakes to depart for 1 and leave Lancashire wobbling at 209 for 8. But then came the Onions-Bailey alliance.
The first half-hour was full of fascinating cricket as Croft and Bohannon continued to defy Surrey’s attack after Lancashire resumed on 177 for 5, needing another 94 for victory.
Virdi and seamer Rikki Clarke opened up for Surrey, and both came close to breaking the sixth wicket partnership. Clarke, in particular, beat the bat on a number of occasions and also saw Bohannon edge him through a vacant second slip for four to go to 28.
Croft went into the 40s by thick-edging an attempted late cut at Virdi past slip for three, but after resisting for more than two and a half hours he played loosely at the 116th ball he faced, a short rising ball from Morkel, and edged through to Ben Foakes behind the stumps.
That dismissal, and Morkel’s subsequent three-wicket burst, seemed to put Surrey on course for a comfortable winning margin, but Onions and Bailey had other ideas and their gritty ninth wicket partnership set up a truly classic championship finish.