BY MARCUS HOOK
The television cameras are at the Oval this week to capture the finale of Surrey’s County Championship-winning season – which would certainly end on a high note should the Oval outfit overcome last year’s title winners Essex for the second time inside a month before officially being presented with the coveted trophy.
Surrey might well have recorded their 11th win in this season’s County Championship, and their 10th in succession, if their match against Somerset at Taunton on Friday had not been abandoned without a ball being bowled on the final day.
There was some controversy surrounding second-placed Somerset’s failure to protect the square as overnight storms blew the covers off the pitch and rendered conditions unplayable.
Umpires Alex Wharf and Tim Robinson had no choice but to call an end to proceedings. Somerset’s chief executive Andrew Cornish said: “There was a huge storm last night and the covers have lifted up slightly at one end.
That caused the flat cover to move away, and water has got underneath and settled in one area. “It’s really frustrating and not how we wanted our home season to finish.
It’s frustrating for people who have come down from London and stayed overnight and those who have been down here for the duration. But this is an act of God and there was nothing we could do.
“We had additional sandbags on the covers, we had secondary ties and nobody can remember anything like this happening before.
It was a prolonged storm last night. The match officials have been in touch with the ECB and they understand the situation. That’s the matter closed.”
Surrey’s director of cricket Alec Stewart was less accepting. He said: “It was very windy and I am sure Somerset haven’t done this on purpose, but there have been winds at cricket grounds before.
“We were trying to win a game and make it 10 Championship wins on the bounce. Whatever happened, we were well ahead, so it’s a massive frustration.
Imagine if this game had been a Championship decider, which at one stage it looked like it might have been. Just think if Somerset were ahead and this happened, I’m sure a lot more would said. “So, it’s worth the ECB looking ahead to prevent this sort of thing happening again.
What are the repercussions? It is just an abandoned game? Is it the home side’s responsibility to make sure the covering is secure? I don’t know. “But as you can tell we are very frustrated and very disappointed, as are Somerset’s players, because they wanted to try to save the game.
“Yes, we’ve won the Championship, but our boys came here wanting to continue that winning streak – and we were ahead in this game, don’t worry about that.
We had every intention of winning the game and winning it well. “When you’re on a winning streak you want to continue it and if you get beaten by a better team fair enough, but this was out of our control.
It had nothing to do with cricket, and that’s a real frustration and disappointment.”
An over of stats
Ball 1 – Surrey’s winning run may have ended in farcical circumstances, but their nine consecutive wins is the most by any team since 1957 in the County Championship (also by Surrey). The overall record is 17 by Middlesex in 1920-21.
Ball 2 – Surrey, who are in action against Essex at the Oval, have only once beaten Essex in SE11 since 1991. Since then, apart from a four-wicket victory in 1999, four contests have been drawn while three have ended in defeat for the South Londoners.
Ball 3 – Surrey have not ended their County Championship campaign with a victory since 2011.
Ball 4 – Surrey are on a long unbeaten run at the Oval. They have not lost in any of their last 25 Championship contests.
Ball 5 – They were last turned over at the Oval by Derbyshire in September 2014. It was in that match that, prior to yesterday (Monday), Surrey were last bowled out for less than 200 in a County Championship game at the Oval.
Ball 6 – The 67 they mustered in their first innings against Essex was Surrey’s lowest first-class total since Hampshire at Basingstoke in 1986 and their lowest at the Oval since 1962, against Warwickshire.
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