monday 10th september - thursday 13th september
WORCESTERSHIRE V SURREY
Surrey won by 3 wickets at New Road, Worcester
Surrey XI: Burns(c), Stoneman, Elgar, Pope, Jacks, Foakes, Clarke, T. Curran, Morkel, Dernbach, Virdi.
Worcestershire all-rounder Ross Whiteley hit a season’s best score of 91 on the opening day.
He was within nine runs of a first Championship hundred in three years when he was undone by a ball of extra bounce from Morne Morkel which was pouched by Ollie Pope in the gulley.
Tom Fell, recently converted into the opening role, and Ed Barnard also weighed in with crucial half centuries after Worcestershire had elected to bat as they reached 288-6 off 94.1 overs.
Surrey bowled well and in the morning session beat the bat on many occasions but there was a resolve about the Worcestershire batting line-up which stood them in good stead.
Daryl Mitchell took over the captaincy of the side for the first time in two years in the absence of the injured Brett D’Oliveira and provided Surrey with their only success of the morning session.
Surrey were boosted by the return of Ollie Pope who was released from England Test duty at the Kia Oval.
Mitchell provided the visitors with their only success of the morning session when he edged Jade Dernbach through to Rory Burns at third slip after making 13.
Fell, who scored a season’s best 88 when the sides met at the Kia Oval in May, and Westbury dug in either side of lunch against some probing bowling to add 66 in 30 overs.
But Tom Curran bowled an excellent post interval spell which brought him two wickets in the space of four balls.
Westbury (22) was bowled after being caught on the crease and Joe Clarke (0) fell for a third ball duck with Rikki Clarke taking as splendid low catch at second slip.
Fell was then joined by Whiteley who was promoted in the absence of D’Oliveira and keeper Ben Cox who was replaced behind the stumps by Alex Milton.
They added 46 before Fell’s resistance came to an end when he tried to work Rikki Clarke through mid wicket and was trapped lbw for 69 after striking 11 fours in his 163 ball knock.
Alex Milton (7) nicked Morkel through to Ben Foakes but then Whiteley and Barnard came together for the most fluent batting of the day.
Their sixth wicket partnership added 83 in only 22 overs and it came out of the blue when Whiteley’s 142 ball – containing 14 boundaries – was ended by fourth over of the second new ball from Morkel.
But that only served to inspire Barnard to even greater efforts and three boundaries in an over from Dernbach took him to his fifty off 69 balls with 10 fours. He ended the day unbeaten on 63 – just 12 short of his career best.
On the day Alastair Cook ended his England career at the Kia Oval, Burns made an unbeaten 103 of Surrey’s 213-6.
Surrey began their first innings knowing maximum batting points would enable them to secure silverware and the first of those had been claimed.
But Surrey were made hard to work for any rewards by a Wayne Parnell inspired Worcestershire.
First the South African shepherded Worcestershire to three batting points by making a disciplined 42 as they totalled 336 all out in 116.4 overs – an excellent recovery from 165-5.
Then the 29-year-old produced an excellent opening spell which brought him the wickets of Mark Stoneman and Dean Elgar for ducks.
He enjoyed a third success in dismissing Ollie Pope (48) before leaving the field with the webbing of his right hand strapped up after fielding a return drive from Rory Burns.
Steady morning rain prevented any play before lunch but both teams quickly made up for lost time as ball generally held sway over bat.
Worcestershire began the day on 288-6 and Morne Morkel dismissed Ed Barnard without addition to his overnight 63. A square drive for four by Parnell off the same over brought up the 300.
But Tom Curran collected wickets in successive overs with Ben Twohig (2) caught behind and Josh Tongue (5) pouched at short cover.
Parnell’s determined effort ended when he pushed forward to Amar Virdi and nicked through to Rikki Clarke at slip.
He had defied the Surrey attack for 104 balls and struck six boundaries. Parnell immediately rocked Surrey back on their heels by bowling Stoneman and having Elgar brilliantly caught at backward point by Barnard from successive deliveries.
Pope survived the hat-trick ball but was dropped by Daryl Mitchell at second slip from his third ball faced in the same over.
Burns and Pope counter-attacked to good effect after tea during a partnership of 97 in only 23 overs.
But Parnell switched ends and enjoyed a third success when Pope drove at the left armer and was caught behind.
It became 135-4 when spinner Ben Twohig accounted for Will Jacks (17) who tried to work the ball through mid wicket and was bowled.
Burns continued on unflustered and found a willing partner in Rikki Clarke (33) in adding 68 for the fifth wicket. Two wickets fell in two overs near to the close.
Clarke (33) was undone by a Ross Whiteley lifter which he nicked to the keeper and Tom Curran (0) fell at first slip off Tongue. But Burns completed his ton – from 165 balls with 16 fours – with a single off Mitchell.
Ben Foakes was unable to bat because of illness.
Morkel picked up five wickets for five runs in 38 balls as Worcestershire collapsed from 154-2 to 203 all out in their second innings.
Worcestershire collected the last four Surrey first innings wickets for 55 runs to earn a lead of 68 and then another polished innings from Tom Fell pressed home the advantage.
But not for the first time this season, Morkel demonstrated his value to Surrey as Worcestershire capsized.
When Surrey resumed in the morning, Josh Tongue made the first breakthrough when Morkel (16) shouldered arms and was bowled.
Ben Foakes (13) – batting down the order because of illness – edged Dillon Pennington to Fell in the gulley region.
Burns’ fine knock ended on 122 when he went for a pull against Ed Barnard and miscued to Parnell at mid on. His 206 ball knock contained 18 fours.
The innings ended when Jade Dernbach (6) holed out to Tongue at long off against Pennington.
Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and Fell put on 65 in before the former on 15 nicked Rikki Clarke to second slip.
Debutant Ollie Westbury (15) tried to work spinner Amar Virdi on the leg side and was lbw but Worcestershire still looked on course to set a target well in excess of 300 as keeper Alex Milton joined Fell for a stand of 63.
Cue the introduction of Morkel and Milton (24) edged a ball of extra bounce and was caught behind and then, to the final ball before tea, Fell was squared up and bowled.
His impressive 89 from 134 balls with 13 fours was a season’s best contribution and followed on from his first innings 69 – but Worcestershire failed to capitalise as Morkel and Virdi cleaned up the rest of the innings.
Ross Whiteley and Wayne Parnell were bowled and Barnard, lbw, fell in quick succession to Morkel while Virdi accounted for Joe Clarke – batting down the order because of a back injury – and Pennington.
A total of eight wickets fell for 49 runs in the space of 19 overs.
Surrey were left with 20 overs batting before the close and Burns and Mark Stoneman brought up the 50 in comfortable fashion in 12 overs.
Entering the final day, the Surrey opening pair never looked troubled as they took the travelling side to 100 without loss. 11 runs later, and Stoneman was the first to fall, shortly after reaching his half-century, bowled by a good ball from Parnell.
Surrey’s middle order stuttered towards the victory. Worcestershire’s pace attack bowled well under the sun, and as they took wickets, they were clearly motivated at the prospect of sneaking a win and moving towards safety in Division One.
Despite losing Dean Elgar for 21 and Ben Foakes for 22, Ollie Pope - batting at four since his return from International duty with England - played with flair and confidence. The 20-year-old fell just one short of his half-century.
With Rikki Clarke at the crease, there was arguably no reason to panic for the Surrey faithful who had made the trip to Worcester in hope of seeing Title celebrations. But, when Tom Curran was caught off the bowling of Pennington, and Morkel walked to the crease, the three feathers wearing crowd held their breath.
The crowd erupted though, as eight balls into his innings, Morkel clipped the ball off his legs for four to give Surrey the win and their 20th County Championship Title.
Morne Morkel (left) and Rikki Clarke (right)
The pair celebrate Morkel hitting the winning runs against Worcestershire to confirm the Club’s 20th County Championship Title, and the first since 2002.