Yorkshire were consigned to a second LV= Insurance County Championship defeat as leaders Surrey chased 227 to triumph by four wickets with only three balls to spare on a thrilling final day at Scarborough.
England Test bowler Jamie Overton’s season’s best 6-61 set up the victory target in the final 44 overs of a high-scoring contest which had largely meandered until day four, and he also contributed a useful 28 having been sent up the order to increase the rate after tea.
But it was another Test player, wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, alongside Australian all-rounder Aaron Hardie, who got their team over the line with an 81 stand unbroken, posting 42 and 40 not out respectively.
With four runs needed off the final over from Steve Patterson, Hardie pulled the winning runs wide of mid-on.
Yorkshire were bowled out for 220 midway through the afternoon having started the day on 65-2, a lead of 71.
And they certainly played their part, with Jordan Thompson and Shannon Gabriel taking two wickets apiece. At six down, Surrey were wobbling.
However, it was Surrey who celebrated a fifth win in nine games, gaining 22 points to move 15 clear at the top. ??Yorkshire’s disappointment was compounded by the loss of two points due to a slow over-rate, and the five they took drops them to sixth place in the table on 101 points after eight games.
Matthew Waite hit an entertaining season’s best 59 not out, and him dominating a last-wicket stand of 32 with Gabriel had the potential to be crucial.
But Surrey wrapped up their fifth win in nine games, taking a 15-point lead over Hampshire in the process.
Yorkshire have now lost back-to-back games following last month’s reverse at Hampshire – their only defeats in eight games – and they sit mid-table on 103 points having taken seven from this fixture.
Take away the disappointment of defeat, this was a highly entertaining day’s play, the most entertaining of a fixture which looked for its majority to be heading for a high-scoring draw after both teams posted 500 plus in the first innings.
George Hill, Will Fraine, James Wharton and Will Luxton all fell lbw before lunch, where the hosts reached at 136-6 – a lead of 141 with 67 overs remaining.
The morning was briefly interrupted by bad light and rain, cutting five overs from the day’s allotted 96.
Overton struck first, trapping Hill in front for 38 with a devastating yorker five overs into the day, leaving Yorkshire 73-3. Dan Worrall got Fraine with the first ball after the resumption at midday – 80-4 – before Wharton fell to Tom Lawes and debutant Luxton to Hardie.
Waite and Jonny Tattersall steadied things with a 52 stand into the early stages of the afternoon.
But things started to happen again in Surrey’s favour, sparked by two wickets in six balls, leaving Yorkshire at 180-8 in the 59th over, a lead of 186 with almost 53 overs remaining.
Tattersall was trapped lbw by the off-spin of Will Jacks and Thompson caught by Jacks at second slip off Overton.
Steve Patterson was next to go, handing Overton his fifth wicket. Jacks at second slip was again the catcher (188-9, leading by 194).
That wicket gave Waite, with only Gabriel for company, the green light, to attack, which he did impressively.
The all-rounder reached his fifty off 73 balls as he took three fours off a Worrall over to elevate the lead beyond 220 before Gabriel edged behind off Overton to wrap up the innings.
Despite the pitch remaining good for batting, Surrey’s chase was far from straightforwards.
Rory Burns (20) was stumped advancing at the off-spin of Bess two balls before tea, where the visitors reached at 32-1 in the seventh over.
The other opener, Ryan Patel, then miscued Patterson to cover for 27 before Hashim Amla (28) uppercut Thompson to third, leaving Surrey 90-3 in the 20th over.
But Overton’s contribution was not limited to his bowling exploits.
Elevated to number four to up the scoring rate, the belligerent all-rounder, clobbered a couple of sixes over long-on off ex-Somerset team-mate Bess in 28 before he was trapped lbw by a back-of-the-hand Thompson slower ball, leaving the score at 121-4 in the 24th over.
Then Gabriel steamed in, trapping Jacks lbw for 27 and uprooting Jamie Smith’s off-stump with a beauty in his first two overs as a Surrey win suddenly became doubtful at 147-6 in the 28th, 80 still needed by the leaders.
The big West Indian, roared on by his new home crowd, had not been on the field at the start of the Surrey chase because of a hip injury sustained whilst fielding in the first innings. But he returned after tea.
When the sixth wicket fell, a Yorkshire victory was not out of the equation. But Hardie and Foakes steadied things and later attacked, sharing three sixes off Bess.
He conceded 15 in the 39th over as the score went to 199-6 with five remaining, and at that stage Surrey were favourites again. ??But it went down to the last over, bowled by Patterson, and it was disappointment for a side who had tasted success in similar circumstances in last week’s Blast quarter-final at the Oval.