Surrey on the threshold

County Championship: Hollioake all but claims the title as Durham surrender

As Surrey departed the field at The Oval yesterday their fans spilled on to the pitch and cheered them to the echo. They congregated in front of the dressing-rooms, bathed in the afternoon sunshine and the glory of a second consecutive Championship. To a man, woman and child they were exhilarated by the occasion. The players went among them.

As Surrey departed the field at The Oval yesterday their fans spilled on to the pitch and cheered them to the echo. They congregated in front of the dressing-rooms, bathed in the afternoon sunshine and the glory of a second consecutive Championship. To a man, woman and child they were exhilarated by the occasion. The players went among them.

It was reminiscent of the rousing scenes at the old ground only five days earlier when England had registered their momentous series victory against West Indies - except that then some 10,000 people were chanting and now there were barely 200. The same, then, but different, the stark contrast between international cricket and the domestic game, at least at the metropolitan grounds. Surrey and the competition deserve better.

There was another slight disparity. Surrey dismembered Durham smoothly enough, winning by an innings and 68 runs without bowling at their considerable peak and earning the maximum 20 points. But it had not secured the Championship pennant. Not yet awhile.

Some 34 minutes after Durham's dismal, inevitable, processional second innings ended at 144, Lancashire passed 400 in their first innings at Old Trafford. This brought their fifth batting bonus point and kept them mathematically in with a chance of denying Surrey. The two sides meet in Manchester on Wednesday.

If Lancashire can win resoundingly, that is by gaining maximum points while preventing Surrey from gaining any, they will win their first outright title since 1934. Anything in sport is possible. However, the idea of Lancashire scoring above 400 while losing fewer than three wickets and also bowling out Surrey for under 200 is preposterous. You might as well suggest that England could go longer than 31 years without beating the West Indies.

Adam Hollioake, Surrey's captain, had to suppress a smirk in contemplating the notion. He was speaking as captain of the 2000 Champions. "We would have to play pretty badly and they would deserve to win it if that happens."

Hollioake thought that Surrey, who started moderately and lost two matches this season, were better now than when theywon the Championship for the first time in 28 years last summer. "Same players, getting better, and knowing how to win," he said.

Pressed to nominate one man, he singled out Martin Bicknell as the player of the season. Bicknell has been Herculean but it was not his swing which took the Brown Hatters to victory here. The early damage was inflicted by Alex Tudor, who had two wickets in two balls in the first full over. Since the second of these was Simon Katich, Durham's Australian batsman, who edged a steepling delivery to slip, any thoughts of prolonged resistance immediately dissipated.

The leading wicket-taker was Ian Salisbury who saw off the middle and late order, finishing with 4 for 49 and 11 for 154 in the match, his second haul of 10 this season. It was natural to pay close regard to Salisbury since he has been recalled to England's tours. The evidence was not as convincing as the figures.

Those who have seen him frequently this summer said this was his worst day. It needed to be. He began with a lovely googly, which utterly deceived Jimmy Daley, who padded up and was bowled, and then purveyed a mixture of the googly, the leg spinner, the long hop and the full toss. One of these led to a wicket when Michael Gough hit back a long hop which the bowler deflected on to the stumps to run out Paul Collingwood.

As Salisbury was under no pressure, his was a worrying performance. He has taken 51 wickets so he must be flighting something right. But if he bowls like this in Pakistan he will be hit from Karachi to the Khyber Pass.

He was still all too much for a woeful Durham, who were lent respectability only by a stand of 77 between Martin Speight and Andy Pratt. They have already been relegated (and that after beating the Champions in May). Salisbury finished the match at 2.36pm when Neil Killeen managed only a top edge to an attempted sweep to provide the wicketkeeper Jonathan Batty with the easier of his day's two catches.

Hollioake, who is maturing into a shrewd, combative captain and is surely a contender for the captaincy of the England A team this winter, is well aware of Surrey's historic past. They won seven consecutive titles in the Fifties. "It would be incredible to be compared with them. We have photographs of that team and do try to see similarities. They had Lock and Laker. We have Saqlain and Salisbury." Well, like The Oval yesterday, the same but different.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea