Warwickshire v Surrey, Edgbaston, 3rd day September 19, 2013

Surrey gamble in survival bid


Warwickshire 120 for 0 dec (Chopra 69*) and 55 for 2 need a further 226 runs to beat Surrey 400 for 5 dec and forfeit

Surrey's plight as relegation favourites has not engendered huge sympathy in the wider world of county cricket but in taking an all-or-nothing gamble in an attempt to rescue their season on the final day of this match they surely deserve a little bit of admiration, however grudging.

They have done so by forfeiting the strong chance of the maximum-points draw that would have kept their survival bid mathematically alive going into the final round of matches, instead agreeing to a deal that exposes them to a serious risk of defeat in order to have an outside chance of a win. It was arrived at by playing cricket that was not particularly worthy but at least guaranteed that an honest battle would result.

The odds lean heavily towards a Warwickshire win, with only 226 more runs between them and victory and a full day at their disposal. Yet Surrey have claimed two of the ten wickets they must take to keep the vultures away for at least one more week. A good last morning for them and they will fancy their chances.

The means by which this position was reached had spectators puzzled, as they always do. Surrey declared, reasonably enough, at their overnight of 400 for 5, only for Warwickshire to begin their reply, after more rain, at 3pm with Gary Wilson and Rory Burns sharing the new ball.

The picture became clear after 22 overs - of which Hashim Amla, with one wicket in 166 first-class matches, contributed five overs of what can only be described as barely legal slow right-arm - when Warwickshire declared at 120 for 0 and Surrey forfeited their second innings.

It wasn't proper cricket, as some would have it. The ball was not tossed up in the manner that sometimes characterises 'joke' bowling but it was hardly taxing of batsmen who would normally expect to have Chris Tremlett and Tim Linley steaming in with intent.

But none of their rivals at the bottom can complain, given that the deal done only denies Nottinghamshire and Somerset -- both under threat -- the possibility of arranging some mutually beneficial carve-up when they meet at Trent Bridge next week.

If Surrey do win, and then beat Yorkshire at The Oval next week with 22 points or more, a draw at Trent Bridge would send at least one of the participants down.

And if a target of 281 from 117 overs looks generous to Warwickshire, it is because the home side would agree to allow Surrey 117 overs to bowl them out only if there was something in it for them, which there will be if they win, giving them an opportunity to finish in the prize money if they can beat Derbyshire next week, which would in itself be of benefit to either Somerset or Nottinghamshire. So if it all goes wrong for Surrey, they have made an honourable sacrifice, and everyone's integrity will be intact.

Varun Chopra, the Warwickshire captain, admitted he had driven a hard bargain. "Once we knew the start time, myself and Gareth [Batty] had a discussion. Surrey know the position they are in and need to win the game. They were looking for us to agree to chase 320 plus but, where we would like to win, they need to win.

"For us, the win would give us a chance of finishing in the top three, which would be a decent effort after the season we have had with injuries. It's set up nicely for a good last day."

For the record, the captains checked with the umpires that they were entitled to contrive the circumstances as they did and were told they were within their rights to do so.

Chopra passed 1000 runs for the season during the early manoeuvres, when he made an unbeaten 69, to which he added nought in the second innings, trapped leg before in Tremlett's third over. When Ian Westwood was caught behind, appearing to change his mind too late about chasing a ball from Stuart Meaker outside off stump, Warwickshire were 19 for 2 and Surrey's tails were up.

But that was the limit of Surrey's inroads in the 21 overs Warwickshire faced. Ateeq Javid and Laurie Evans had laid the foundations for recovery, with Evans keener than most to deliver a blow against the county that rejected him three years ago.

Although Jamie Atkinson, hired to keep wicket on an emergency two-game deal after injuries to Tim Ambrose and Peter McKay, now has a suspected broken finger of his own, he will bat and Warwickshire, for all Surrey's boldness, are favourites to disappoint them.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    ThirteenthMan,as a Bear like me you should not complain about this sort of finish. Have a look in the archives for the last game of the season in 1999 between Derbyshire and Hampshire. That was as dodgy as it comes to a contrivance. Hampshire needed to win but make sure that Derbyshire who only needed a draw, played ball but this would only happen if Derby were given certain concessions to play a proper game rather than go for a draw. When Derby were over 50 runs away from following-on with only 3 wickets left, Hampshire brought on their part time spinner White who lobbed a few up. It kept Derby interested and made sure Hampshire could not be part of a bore-draw that would not suit them. Hampshire won and they and Derby played in the 1st division next season, Warwickshire played in division 2.

  • John on September 20, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    @Cyril_Knight on (September 20, 2013, 8:05 GMT) I'd say Warwicks should be applauded (by Surrey fans) , but Surrey absolutely need the win so it's not like they are gambling anything

    @Tom Fordon (September 20, 2013, 8:34 GMT) You're right there but I can't see it happening. There will be too many investigations if it happens that way

    @colinje on (September 20, 2013, 6:55 GMT) I'm sorry but I see it as offering Surrey a more realistic way out. They'll stand to gain more points by winning compared to what they'd drop by losing

    @ThirteenthMan on (September 20, 2013, 8:21 GMT) I don't think anyone can sue anyone although in that scenario if Derbyshire go down , their fans will certainly have reason to feel aggrieved about it

  • Mark on September 20, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    This is a fairly desperate ploy by Surrey, but it is an understandable one. They need two wins from two games, having managed just one win in the whole of the rest of the season and, what is more, play the runners-up in their last game.

    It is daft to criticize an agreed declaration. I understand why some fans are uncomfortable about it (suppose Surrey *do* win today and then knock over a little motivated Yorkshire - the side who goes down instead would be right to feel a little aggrieved), but it is a fact of life. In 4 day cricket declaration games are not so common, but they certainly still happen and my own side has been involved in several agreed chases recently (which all went horribly wrong).

    Warwickshire have an eye on third place and, with Middlesex almost certain to lose today, that third place looks just about reachable. They have a huge incentive to set something up that gives them a chance of 16 points and a fair amount of cash if they can win next week too.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    So if Notts & Somerset conduct an agreement to a full bonus points tie, earning 16 points... I think that would make any result next week at the Oval irrelevant.

  • Robert on September 20, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    If Surrey win and that means Derby are relegated , Derby will have a case to sue Warwickshire. Surrey's decision to forfeit their 2nd innings was, formally, made after Warwickshire had declared but clearly it was made to enable Surrey to set up possible win.

    Surrey outsmarted Warks. Their front line bowlers took it easy as Chopra and Westwood ran most of 120. Then Surrey's fresh front line bowlers knocked over 2 quick wickets. Given the frailty of Warwickshire's batting Surrey must be strong favourites. Derby will be furious if they are relegated. Warks cannot say they were playing for position; they are sure end up mid table.

    (I'm a Warwickshire supporter)

  • Cyril on September 20, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Big thing people are forgetting. At The Oval next week it will be a result wicket, there is no way Surrey can score a maximum points win on a result wicket - impossible.

    I don't believe that a contrived high scoring draw between Notts and Som, that Culley refers to, falls within the laws of the game. It would be fixing a result (not like declaring and forfeit). Therefore wrong and certainly against the spirit of the game.

    I would argue that yesterday's declarations and forfeits are great for the game. There is not enough incentive to go for victories, as well have seen so many times this season. Both teams should be applauded for seeking a result, especially after losing so much cricket to the weather.

  • Martin on September 20, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    It might be less than ideal, but declaration bowling, contrived results and captains having conversations have all long been a part of county cricket. It's a gamble that Surrey absolutely had to take.

    @Patrick Ginty - it's 24 points for a maximum bonus point win, so just for the record, if Surrey win today and next week, they could end up on 148 points, and Derbyshire could end with 144.

  • John on September 20, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    @Yevghenny on (September 19, 2013, 21:50 GMT) Obviously as a Somerset fan it doesn't sit well , but I would not complain if I was a Surrey fan so I can't be one eyed about it. It was a no brainer for Surrey - they need the win period. That's why I don't like it being called a gamble because a gamble is when you have something to lose

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    Not only are the comments potentially slanderous, they are incorrect. If notts take 10 points from their last game and Somerset take 9, they will both have 145 points which will make it impossible for Surrey to catch them both as Surrey can only reach 144. Derbyshire can only reach 142 so they would also be relegated.

    I'm not suggesting they would do that of course.

  • Colin on September 20, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    I would have thought that Somerset and Notts would say thanks to The Bears for the chance to relegate Surrey today. If Somerset and Notts were offered 280 in 117 overs to win a game on a barely used wicket without a top line spinner in opposition and the possibility of finishing third then I am sure they would have done the same. To finish third the Bears will need another good win next week v Derby. The two counties who would benefit most from that are..???

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