Surrey right in the mix for promotion
Surrey gave their promotion hopes a significant boost as they bowled Essex out for 239 to claim victory by 109 runs in their LV= County Championship clash at Chelmsford.
Essex resumed overnight at 142 for five, chasing 349, and the visitors completed their third successive win before lunch to move within one point of second-placed Northamptonshire, each county having only one match remaining.
But it was not all plain sailing for Surrey, with Graham Napier causing a few palpitations as he smashed 80 from 64 balls.
Napier had it all to do after Ryan ten Doeschate went in the second over of the day. Ten Doeschate despatched the first ball he received from paceman Tim Linley to the square-leg boundary but the third trapped him lbw.
That paved the way for Napier, who initially adopted a cautious approach in company with captain James Foster. The pair added 34 in nine overs but once Foster’s obdurate innings of 29 from 87 deliveries was ended by Chris Jordan, Napier really cut loose.
He took a particular liking to seamer Stuart Meaker as he plundered 41 in a spell of 16 deliveries he sent down. These included two successive sixes with deliberately executed shots over third man and a mighty blow over long-on.
Napier, who struck a career-best 196 when the counties met earlier in the season, also cleared the ropes against Jordan before the paceman gained his revenge.
Attempting another big hit, he skied to extra-cover where Mark Ramprakash took a fine running catch. Napier also gathered 11 fours and deservedly walked off to a standing ovation.
Jordan, who had earlier got rid of David Masters, brought the Essex innings to an end with his next delivery.
Again Ramprakash provided a helping hand with another fine catch, this time in the gully to get rid of Tom Craddock, who did not contribute a run to a stand of 53 with Napier.
Jordan will certainly remember this match, from which Surrey claimed 22 points. After posting a career-best 71 in the first innings and bettering it with an undefeated 79 in the second, he emerged with 4-57 - again a personal best.
Essex were left to settle for three points, after having two deducted for a slow over rate.