Surrey fall to biggest defeat in their County Championship history against Hampshire

Liam Dawson celebrates
Liam Dawson took four second-innings wickets as Hampshire humiliated Surrey by an innings and 278 runs - PA/Andrew Matthews

It was not simply an extraordinary reversal. It was a defeat of unprecedented proportions for Surrey when they lost to Hampshire by an innings and 278 runs.

Surrey had won four of their six championship games this season before coming down to Southampton’s earth. They have won the last two titles, and were romping away towards a third, echoing their side which won seven in a row in the 1950s. Yet they succumbed to their biggest defeat in the whole of their championship history.

In fact, they have only ever had two heavier defeats in first-class cricket, which were against an England side in 1866 that featured WG Grace and against Don Bradman’s Australia in 1948.

Kyle Abbott ran through Surrey on the opening day, but that can happen to anyone on his home-from-home ground. What was astonishing was how Surrey’s vaunted attack then conceded 608 for six, with their two spinners taking one wicket for more than 300 runs, neither Dan Lawrence nor Cameron Steel doing their international prospects a favour on a pitch of increasing wear. Hampshire’s spinners, Liam Dawson and Felix Organ, then took nine wickets – defied only by Ben Foakes who blocked and trotted singles after his back spasm, and by Surrey’s No.11 Dan Worrall who swashbuckled their highest individual innings of the match, 48 – to record Hampshire’s record-winning margin in the championship.

Surrey's Cameron Steel is bowled by Hampshire's Michael Neser
Surrey were bowled out for 127 one day one and their match went downhill from there - PA/Andrew Matthews

This result means the second half of the championship will still be alive when division one resumes, fitfully in mid-summer, before the September run-in. Surrey’s growing image of invulnerability, and of a dynasty destined to last, has been dented, even if they remain favourites for the title, their third in a row; other counties can still live in hope of catching them, notably Somerset, Essex, Durham and Hampshire.

“Hampshire will probably be talking about playing their perfect game,” Surrey’s head coach Gareth Batty said. “They scored 600 runs and bowled us out for less than 203 twice. They have gone about their business very well.

“It isn’t all doom and gloom for our Championship campaign, we have really been quite excellent in six games but unfortunately this one went really quite badly. We need to learn from that and the Blast is a new start for everybody. Our whole focus now goes to T20 cricket.

“I hope this is a one-off – I would be very disappointed if it is not. I have huge belief in the whole group of players, I wouldn’t change our squad for anything, but we all have to understand that we weren’t as good as we can be in this game and we need to be better next time out.

“We need to address that we could have been better in periods and it is our job as staff to be as good as we can be. We can’t sweep things under the carpet and worry about it next time, we need to get on the front foot and see if we can do better – which I absolutely know we can as most games I see these guys doing exceptional things.”

On another turning pitch, this time at Old Trafford, Lancashire’s and Australia’s Nathan Lyon was out-bowled by Jacob Bethell who, having previously taken two first-class wickets at more than 200 apiece, suddenly had figures of four for 10. Canvassed as an England batsman in the making, having grown up in Barbados, Bethell’s slow left-armers have the advantage of slight natural variations.

Most other matches, having been truncated by rain, would have been enlivened by a change in the scoring system. Those counties which batted first and posted 500-plus would have been engaged in a tussle for first innings point under a different system, in addition to bonus points – as at Bristol where James Bracey and Graeme van Buuren have so far added 268 for the fifth wicket against Derbyshire.

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