SURREY WERE back at summit of the County Championship last weekend after a comfortable victory against their title rivals Somerset, winning by an innings and 69 runs, writes Mark Caswell.
To the surprise of many, Somerset opted to field first at a sun-drenched Guildford celebrating its 80th festival, this contest ending fifteen winless games at the venue.
Despite missing five regular players, Surrey were still far too strong for a Somerset team experiencing a good start to the season.
Surrey’s first innings of 459 proved far too much for the Cider Men, 20-year-old Ollie Pope (117) scoring his fourth first-class ton in fourteen innings.
This was a good collective effort with Steve Borthwick (83), the consistent Rory Burns (66), and 40s from Ryan Patel, Arun Harinath and Ricky Clarke. The only downside was a two-ball debut duck from South African test player Theunis DeBryun.
Somerset got off to a good start, but the game turned on its head with a sensational spell of bowling from Patel who took advantage of some uneven bounce from the Pavilion End to take 5-5 in eleven balls, ending up with 6-5 from 23 balls, as the visitors went from 173-4 to 180 all out. Before this game Patel had only taken two first-class wickets.
Another overseas star, Morne Morkel (4-36), and local favourite Jade Dernbach (4-49) wrapped up a Surrey win just before tea on the third day.
On this form Surrey have a good chance of recording their first championship success since 2000, boasting plenty of youth and experience, and even with forthcoming international call-ups the depth in this squad should overcome any potential obstacles.
Patel described his spell as freaky, but praised the other bowlers for helping to build up the pressure. He also paid tribute to 73-year-old bowling coach Geoff Arnold.
And Pope said: “I have a simple batting technique, and had the best seat in the house (wicketkeeper) when Ryan produced his devastating spell and swung the ball around corners.”