Yorkshire's white flag

Yorkshire admitted yesterday that their Championship ambitions have ended for another season, leaving just the question of how long they and the waterlogged Scarborough wicket could frustrate Surrey's attempts to close in on another title.

Yorkshire admitted yesterday that their Championship ambitions have ended for another season, leaving just the question of how long they and the waterlogged Scarborough wicket could frustrate Surrey's attempts to close in on another title.

The sun shone and a drying wind blew vigorously on the East Coast but, until 4pm, the only cricket being played was on the beach, where low tide left boundaries long enough to test the biggest hitter.

There was no such excitement at the cricket ground where heavy overnight rain had run off the covers to saturate the bowler's run up at the pavilion end, producing only squelching of feet and the shaking of heads during periodic inspections.

It was a pitch inspection of another sort that meant that the game was already a bitter disappointment for Yorkshire. Needing a victory to close the 18-point gap on Surrey, they not only saw that prospect recede rapidly but also lost eight more points after the Scarborough wicket was found wanting by pitch inspectors from Lord's.

The county decided not to appeal against the deduction, but that did not mean that they were happy about it. Their secretary, Chris Hassell, referred to "puzzling inconsistencies" in the way pitch reports are implemented.

"Everybody is very disappointed," he said. "Surrey have got good spin bowlers and they prepare pitches that take spin. We've got a good seam attack and we're entitled to prepare pitches that suit our bowlers.

"When you look at the scores in this match, there is nothing untoward. There are some appalling scores at other matches and nothing seems to have been done about it."

Whatever the rights or wrongs, Scarborough's failure to come up to scratch, plus the later problems with the covers not doing their job have produced rumblings about the wisdom of bringing a game as pivotal as this to an out-ground.

Given Scarborough's history of well-attended festival cricket, that might seem an over-reaction, but it has been that sort of week for Yorkshire.

When they did finally take the field, Surrey, having declared, needed to take all Yorkshire's second innings wickets in a minimum of 32 overs; Yorkshire required a far less likely 288 runs.

Surrey showed their intentions by starting with four slips and two gullies for Alex Tudor and Ben Hollioake. When Saqlain Mushtaq came into the attack he also had six men around the bat but, after 13 largely untroubled overs, Simon Widdup and Vic Craven were halfway to the pavilion before Adam Hollioake brought them back by pointing out that it was no longer raining.

It was typical of the way the sides had been at cross purposes through the match, but by then it was obvious that there was to be no Yorkshire collapse to hasten Surrey towards the Championship. Even without the bonus of winning points, only Lancashire can stop them now.

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