Yorkshire v Surrey, Specsavers Championship Div 1, Headingley, 4th day May 11, 2016

Root spins a route for resounding Yorkshire victory

Yorkshire 557 for 6 dec (Root 213, Bairstow 198, Rashid 60*) beat Surrey 330 (Davies 117, Sangakkara 73) and 207 (Sangakkara 61, Davies 52) by an innings and 20 runs
Scorecard

Yorkshire celebrate their victory after a late Surrey collapse © Getty Images

With the Dickie Bird clock creeping beyond half past two, Surrey's third-wicket pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Steven Davies proceeding without alarms and Yorkshire's captain Andrew Gale making a stern-faced retreat from the fray with a bruised knee, few would have given much for Yorkshire's chances of forcing victory at Headingley.

Even with a first-innings lead of 237 to sustain them, the feeling was growing that this would ultimately be just another draw to join the weather-hit stalemates around the country. Such an outcome would have meant four successive draws for Yorkshire, a statistic that would have begun to eat away at a county with designs on a hat-trick of Division One titles.

Little more than three hours later, they found themselves top of the Championship for the first time this season - a resounding victory by an innings and 20 runs duly completed, the end coming with 4.5 overs left when Liam Plunkett had the last man Matt Dunn lbw with a full-length ball.

Lancashire's place at the summit had been limited to a couple of hours, which added extra cross-Pennines piquancy, and it was not long before an assistant was dutifully carrying in boxes of celebratory beer and cider from the mini market on the other side of Kirkstall Lane.

Surrey will adapt to first division life but their head coach, Michael di Venuto, drew a pertinent message from the outcome. "We were champions of Division Two, they are champions of Division One, that's the difference," he said.

The catalyst for the victory, one which their director of cricket Martyn Moxon accepted would quell a few misgivings, was the Golden Child. Joe Root can do no wrong these days, for Yorkshire or England, but his worth is normally weighed in runs. This time he took over captaincy duties, wasted little time in introducing his own offspin with two left-handers at the crease, and removed Sangakkara and Davies within three overs. Not a bad decision, captain.

It was Sangakkara who had bruised Gale's knee when he was stationed at short leg to the leg spin of Adil Rashid. Neither he nor Davies had put a foot wrong and, at 138 for 2, and the deficit reduced to 99, the pain for Gale was fast becoming as mental as it was physical. But Root, finding previously unseen turn on the fourth-day pitch, caused Sangakkara to drive to Gary Ballance at short extra and then beat Davies' defensive push to win an lbw decision.

With Jason Roy also departing, a soft wicket for Jack Brooks as he clipped a low full toss to short midwicket, Surrey had lost three wickets for 13 in 22 balls, half their side gone for 151. Root, not content with one short leg, summoned a second, and Ben Foakes almost followed when he drove the ball into the body of one of the two substitutes standing there. The game had been turned on its head in half-an-hour. His offspin might be a bit part role, but he does not treat it lightly. He treats nothing in cricket likely, but finds joy in his perpetual pursuit of excellence.

Yorkshire had a sixth wicket by tea, James Burke's unhappy match concluded when he played across his front pad to be lbw to Brooks, whose attacking instincts had been sharpened. But they were a bowler light, the day having begun badly with the announcement that David Willey would be out for six weeks because of an abdominal strain. Rashid's leg spin was strangely ineffective. There was even a short stoppage for drizzle soon after tea which robbed four overs from the game.

As Foakes and Tom Curran rediscovered Surrey's resolve in an obdurate seventh-wicket stand which spanned 16 overs, the loss of the third day because of rain was still potentially decisive. Thoughts wandered to how Sangakkara should have been run out when he was only a single - another detail that might have been part of the totting-up procedure had Yorkshire failed to force victory.

Around that time, Moxon fielded a concerned text message from Ian Dews, the academy director and 2nd XI coach, wondering whether Steve Patterson was injured, his involvement having been limited to only four overs. It turned out that victories also belonged to the unsung: coincidentally, Patterson had just been thrown the ball and his incursions were as vital and immediate as Root's had been earlier.

A man measured in reliability rather than carats, Patterson's removed the middle stump of Curran with the first ball he bowled, Curran's bat responsibly straight, ensured a pair for Gareth Batty as he was caught at the wicket, pulling, and then uprooted middle once more as Foakes flayed at a fullish delivery.

With the floodlights blazing through grey skies, there was always the lingering possibility of a Surrey reprieve. The last pair resisted for six overs. Bowling choices became ever more pressing. With five overs remaining, Root opted for Plunkett and he struck immediately.

Yorkshire's bowlers, as Moxon observed, had begun to rouse themselves, but this was also a victory fashioned two days earlier by the immense stand of 372 between Root and Jonny Bairstow. Its magnitude was not just in the size of the partnership, but the speed at which it was assembled - nearly five-and-a-half runs an over. In its haste, it kept time in the game - just enough time as it turned out - and enabled Yorkshire to win despite the loss of 100 overs in all. Of such high ambitions are victories sometimes made - and perhaps Championships won.

Others must now take up the mantle for Yorkshire. Root and Bairstow now leave for a full summer with England because surely Bairstow will win an ODI call-up too, but they have left Headingley in better heart for the challenges ahead than might have been the case.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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