Superb Harmer haul leads Essex past Surrey
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Simon Harmer spun his way to match figures of 14-131 as county champions Essex beat Surrey by 169 runs to maintain their 100 per cent win record in the Bob Willis Trophy.
Off-spinner Harmer had taken 6-67 in the first innings, before producing his well-worn fourth innings trick by steamrolling Surrey with 8-64.
Harmer had been on course for the first 10-wicket haul in county cricket since Ottis Gibson for Durham in 2007, but Aaron Beard (2-33) took two late poles to deny him history.
Incredibly Harmer, who bowled unchanged from his River End on day four, is playing through an abductor strain, which medical staff had recommended would rule him out for up to six weeks.
With 20 wickets in two matches this season, he continues his quest to be the country’s leading red ball wicket-taker for a second successive season – and already has a six-wicket lead over his nearest challenger.
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Essex, who have now won their last 10 first-class matches at the Cloudfm County Ground – aka Fortress Chelmsford – jump to the top of the South Group table, while heavily depleted Surrey remain the only winless side in the conference.
Harmer had started his haul with the last ball of the third day, when Mark Stoneman was leg before to one which didn’t turn – leaving Surrey requiring an unlikely 310 to win from the final day.
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It took him 23 morning deliveries to break through Scott Borthwick’s defences as the once-capped England Test player attempted a forward defence only to see the ball spin off his outside edge and into Adam Wheater’s gloves.
Surrey weren’t going to roll over and hand Harmer and Essex the wickets they required, with Ryan Patel and Will Jacks providing a blocking rearguard.
Patel, in particular, seemed unmovable as he grappled to hold onto his wicket, showing intense concentration to see out 97 balls.
But the 22-year-old lapsed for a moment to sky a pulled short to Jamie Porter at mid-wicket while attempting to cash in on a shorter delivery from Harmer.
Jacks saw out 93 balls with his laser focus, while also putting on a 51-run stand with Jamie Smith – as the pair held Essex up for 20 overs.
But having refuelled over lunch, Harmer took his next two wickets in three balls.
Jacks, who had batted beautifully scored 70 in the first innings, attempted to go back and work to leg side only to be pinned – that brought up Harmer’s 10 wickets in the match.
Two balls later, Evans, on loan from Sussex, skipped down the track, missed the ball and was stumped by Wheater.
Rikki Clarke twice used his feet to strike Harmer for boundaries down the ground but departed for 14 from 27 when Varun Chopra held on to a simple catch at short leg.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Smith once again showed why he is so highly rated at the Kia Oval with a two-hour vigil.
The 20-year-old scored 45 in 89 balls but departed at the hands of Harmer – although not through the South African’s bowling.
Smith edged Beard to second slip, where Harmer swooped low to pull off a stunning catch, which ended his own shot at immortality.
Harmer returned to his first skill again in the next over as Gus Atkinson, who had hit him for six, ran past a straight one to be bowled.
Beard saw off James Taylor, caught at cover, for a seven-ball duck before Harmer wrapped up the victory at 3.35pm when Amar Virdi slapped him to mid-off.