Roy brings the fireworks as Surrey seal title
Surrey 410 (Sangakkara 101, S Curran 61*) and 125 for 5 (Roy 77) drew with Northamptonshire 110 (T Curran 7-35, S Curran 3-46) and 514 (Murphy 135*, Duckett 120, Rossington 116, Wakely 93, Dunn 4-103)
Eight overs into Surrey's second innings, with the score on 58 for 3, the home side chasing 215 from 33 overs, Essex and Lancashire shook hands on a draw at Chelmsford. At that moment, Surrey became Division Two champions. Jason Roy, fresh from putting pen to paper on a three-year deal, marked the occasion with three towering sixes from the next six balls.
It was left to Roy to see things off in style. Entry into the Kia Oval was free from 2pm and many had taken the opportunity to come through the gates. Bring the champers - Roy's got the fireworks covered.
He would fall for 77 off 35 balls which housed 12 boundaries - eight of them sixes. Two went into the Pavilion, three went towards the die-hards at midwicket in the Peter May Stand, three into the off-side and one over cover which will stay in the mind until age and nature take its course. Handshakes came in the 16th over and the celebrations began. Surrey were back in Division One.
Those in the stands flocked onto the outfield to get the best places for the trophy presentation. Some of the members went to higher ground when that crowd became five deep. All cheered when corks were popped, then mobbed when the formalities went out of the window. Kumar Sangakkara obliged every selfie - Gary Wilson wore every "congrats Wils" pat on the back. Even Arun Harinath, who featured in only eight matches this season, had his name sung as the season neared its conclusion. That he was one of eight batsmen to register centuries this season spoke of an inclusiveness and a sharing of duty that has lacked from that Surrey dressing room in the past. On Freddie van den Bergh, an impressive left-arm spinner who has played no part in the Championship this season, skipper Gareth Batty identified him as the player that would finish his career.
"Every single person in that room can be really proud of themselves," he said, soaked in champagne while nursing a beer. "For the next six months they can look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'I did what I had to do last summer'."
"That was something that we set out for at the start. Modern sport is not just about 11 blokes, particularly cricket. Even if you're not in the team or the squad the whole time, you have an equal share how we carry ourselves, how we move forward. To a man, every single one of them has grabbed hold of that. Every single person up there can be really proud of themselves.
"For a young-ish group, we've started off in the right manner. The longevity is there - these guys can be here for a long period of time. We might need to get a few more trophy cabinets built in the coming years."
"It's a long season and it gives me great pleasure that we sit on the top of the pile in Divison Two. The group is moving forward and moving forward quickly. And they'll fight in Division One. I know that."
He went on to praise Surrey's management structure with Alec Stewart in the director of cricket seat and Graham Ford - "the best coach in the world" in Batty's view - as head coach. When dishing out the praise to everyone but himself - Batty even named the dressing-room attendant and dinner lady as two of many who deserve a slice of the pie - he spoke of his desire for those presently at the club and those who wish to be a part of it to invest it all in the Brown Cap of Surrey.
He's certainly done so since returning to the club in 2009 after some time away. Ever since, he has taken the time to pick the brains of former captains such as Adam Hollioake on how best to lead in a 16-match campaign and, importantly, how to "grow that feel of the brown hat of Surrey". "With some it's ingrained," Batty says of his current crop. "Or, you'll get it stamped on your forehead tonight." He gets it.
This final day felt very end-of-term. Stuart Meaker, a bowler who could walk into most county attacks, manned an afternoon jumble sale for the Tom Maynard Trust, flogging 2015 used kit ranging from Surrey cream jumpers to Rory Burns' signed jockstrap (that fetched £50). Meaker, who put a fleece he was wearing on the back of a chair, returned at the end to find that it had been sold off, too.
Members of the crowd were walking out of The Montpellier Club lounge with arm-fulls of stash, asking one another about events at Chelmsford. On the field, Adam Rossington and David Murphy brought up noteworthy centuries, as Surrey's bowlers toiled.
Tom Curran ends a superb 2015 summer just one wicket shy of taking the most wickets in a Championship season since Waqar Younis hauled 113 in 1991: the senior Curran removed both Ben Duckett and Alex Wakely in a morning collapse that saw three wickets fall for a run in the space of two overs. Younger brother Sam dismissed Rob Keogh, leading to thoughts that the two might repeat their feat of day three and take all ten again. That was dashed when Batty dismissed Josh Cobb to reduce Northants, who were following on, to 279 for 5, still 21 behind Surrey's first-innings score.
But a fine partnership of 162 between Rossington and Murphy took Northants away from an innings defeat and into a sizeable lead after they posted 514 all out - their highest total of the season. Rossington's first Championship ton of the campaign came off 88 deliveries, having edged Tom Curran between second and third slip while on nought. It was Murphy, however, whose reprieve on 37, when Roy dropped him atsecond slip, again off the bowling of Tom, which would have wide-reaching consequences.
Murphy would go on to register his maiden first-class hundred off 123 balls. He is out of contract at the end of the summer and, given that Northants have Rossington and Duckett who can both keep wicket, there were thoughts that this could be Murphy's last knock for the county. However, ESPNcricinfo understands that he will be offered a new, reduced deal as Rossington is unable to commit physically to keeping full-time and Murphy could also fill a gap opening the innings in four-day cricket - a problem area for Northants. Whatever the state of negotiations, this knock will have earned Murphy a few extra bargaining chips.
He nearly did not make it to three figures, as Matt Dunn tore through the lower order to take four wickets in the space of 10 balls. But a six, a four and then a scampered two got Murphy from 88 to 100, with Rory Kleinveldt coming out to bat with a runner as the last man. Even the Surrey players, who have dished out an earful to all who dared hinder their push for promotion, took stock to applaud.
Though they might not admit it, these two years in Division Two have bruised Surrey's ego. Now, they are back where they feel they should be. And no one who has seen them this summer can say they do not deserve to be.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport