County Championship: Surrey wrap up 10-wicket win against Essex to move closer to title
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cloudfm County Ground (day three):|
|Surrey 351: Burns 90, Elgar 75 & 2-0|
|Essex 126 & 226: Bopara 81*; Clarke 4-47, Morkel 3-68|
|Surrey (22 pts) beat Essex (2 pts) by 10 wickets|
Surrey moved a step closer to their first County Championship title since 2002 with a 10-wicket victory against holders Essex in Chelmsford.
Resuming on 13-0 in their follow-on, Essex were dismissed for 226 as they narrowly forced Surrey to bat again.
All-rounder Rikki Clarke took 4-47 to end with match figures of 8-75.
Surrey now have a 43-point lead over second-placed Somerset and need just 30 more points from their remaining three matches to be crowned champions.
They could even secure the title as early as next week when they travel to bottom side Worcestershire and Somerset take on Hampshire, who are also looking for valuable points to stave off relegation.
Surrey's ninth win in 11 matches and their eighth in a row came inside three days and left last year's champions Essex still nervously looking over their shoulders in their bid to secure Division One survival.
After five wickets fell before lunch, Ravi Bopara (81 not out) offered some resistance against the in-form Surrey seam attack.
He ensured Essex avoided an innings defeat, setting the visitors a target of just two, sharing a 53-run partnership with wicketkeeper Michael Pepper (21) for the sixth wicket and then adding 51 with Jamie Porter (31) for the ninth.
Rory Burns needed just four balls to knock off the two runs required for victory after tea.
Essex batsman Ravi Bopara:
"We were outplayed from day one by a very, very good Surrey team. They do the basics very well, with a strong bowling and batting line-up.
"It helps when you've got players in form as well and they gritted out the first session and hung in there despite us bowling well.
"I think we had the conditions bowling first, but it didn't happen for us with the ball.
"Surrey look in the same mindset as we did last year, where you turn up and know you're going to perform."
Surrey captain Rory Burns told BBC Radio London:
"A very good performance. Again making a side follow-on was very impressive in the way we did it and how the bowlers put their hands up.
"We made an above par score batting first in the end and rode our luck in tough conditions. It was a wicket you never felt in on and it was hard work.
"To get the 10 wickets today when the pitch was slowing down was mightily impressive.
"It's hard not to have a look at the table. But at the end of the day, you've just got to keep putting in hard sessions of cricket and put wins on the board, so that's our main focus."