Cunning Patel spins Surrey to ten-wicket defeat

Warwickshire 449 (Trott 123, Bell 66, Barker 65, Ambrose 53, Footitt 4-57) and 5 for 0 beat Surrey 273 (Finch 110, Patel 5-62) and 177 (Burns 68, Patel 5-61) by 10 wickets

Warwickshire have won two Championship crowns this century. Each has been defined less by thrilling cricket than a remorseless, unyielding spirit: in 2012 the side drew nine of their 16 games but lost just one; in 2004 Warwickshire were undefeated, but won only five of their 16 matches.

This is a side that shares the characteristics of those victorious teams. Brimming with depth in batting and bowling, the Warwickshire vintage of 2016 has a hard, attritional edge. Perhaps that derives from their experience: eight members of the team to thrash Surrey inside three days are aged 29 or over, including five who are 33 or above.

All five of those played crucial roles in this match. Jonathan Trott made a high-class century, putting on century stands with both Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose. Returning to the ground on which he learned the game, Rikki Clarke ensured a happy homecoming with a high-class spell with the old ball. Deliveries that jagged late snared Aaron Finch and Sam Curran in consecutive overs, and there was a fine slip catch, too, to claim Tom Curran.

But best of all was Jeetan Patel. In an age that fetishes mystery offspin, Patel is a flagbearer for the best of the orthodox art. He has no need for a doosra while bowling with such subtlety and immaculate control, varying his pace, trajectory and delivery point on the crease. His arm-balls recognise that the most dangerous delivery can sometimes be that which does not turn at all. Each of his 46 overs in the game was a distillation of the nous acquired over 16 years and 219 first-class matches.

"It's such a tight league that you have to call on experience to win games. That experience also has to help the youngsters coming through and it is - it's an exciting time for Warwickshire," Patel said, suggesting that the new toss regulations might have helped a side with Warwickshire's character. "It has made it more attritional and scrappy. Teams are playing on flatter wickets which means you've got to work harder and do the right things at the right time."

There is a sense that this year represents the generation of 2012's last viable chance of a repeat. Warwickshire this year are borrowing much from the 2012 template: six of their nine games to date have been draws.

That this game ended with such alacrity could be explained by the contrast between Surrey's spin twins, normally so admirable, and Patel. Zafar Ansari and Gareth Batty ended the match with combined figures of 1 for 135 from 32 overs; Patel ended with 10 for 123, following his first innings 5 for 62 with 5 for 61 in the second innings.

In the process of this game his haul of first-class wickets for Warwickshire cleared that for Wellington: a small symbol of how, in a county that has been blessed with some of the most mesmerising overseas players in the game, Patel has established himself as an undemonstrative recruit of enduring worth. He now has 270 first-class wickets for Warwickshire at 26.73 apiece, to go with 2101 runs at 27.28, a record that marks him out as the premier overseas player around.

"After spending seven years here, I'm probably an adopted Brummie," he reflected. "I get opportunities to play here and keep playing the game I love. I want to keep winning games for Warwickshire, I want to my titles. It's up to me as the overseas player to show that professionalism and today was my day."

He has plenty of them. Warwickshire have a bowling attack whose variety and depth is only challenged by Yorkshire, as was exemplified here. The left-armer Keith Barker bowled an outstanding, luckless spell with the old ball before tea; Clarke jagged the ball around with pace and bounce; and the beanpole Boyd Rankin finished Surrey off, leaving Josh Poysden's legspin virtually unused. Chris Wright, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Mark Adair and, England commitments withstanding, Chris Woakes are all ready to augment the attack, but, even at 36, Patel's worth stands out above all others.

"I want to play for as long as I can," he said. "You're a long time retired. Yes, I'm a little bit older but I still feel I've got a lot to give - whether that's in a bowling capacity or a coaching capacity or whatever it is."

On this evidence, Patel will be bowling for Warwickshire for a fair while after his current contract expires, at the end of this summer. "This is handy to go into negotiations with something like this behind my back - we'll work something out I would have thought."

Surrey's batsmen could not work Patel out. Until Steven Davies made a sprightly 44, immune to the crumbling edifice of Surrey's batting order, only Zafar Ansari and Rory Burns offered any resistance worthy of the name.

After the early loss of Arun Harinath, the two combined for an alliance of 102 runs in 41.2 overs, including the entire afternoon session, as a rather somnolent air engulfed Guildford on a gloomy day: attritional cricket and an unseasonal wind were far from the idyllic image of festival cricket.

Then Patel intervened. Rather aptly, Burns was dismissed not by an ill-judged shot but by the lack of one: he was snared playing on as he tried to withdraw his bat. Two overs later, Ansari was surprised by a delivery with extra bounce, and edged to short leg. Then, "the right-handers came in, we threw the ball into the footmarks, and boom," as Patel put it.

Ben Foakes was lbw to an arm ball; Tom Curran edged obligingly to slip; and Stuart Meaker played down the wrong line. And, just like that, Surrey had lost nine wickets in the final session. Even allowing for Patel's chicanery and overcast conditions exploited by a menacing spell from Clarke, it amounted a deeply underwhelming effort.

"The batting is faulty," Alec Stewart, Surrey's director of cricket, said. "I thought we bowled well, our bowling is moving in the right direction, but our batting isn't. That is an issue. If you are only making scores of 270, and not batting four sessions, you are making it very hard for the bowlers. There are players with talent, but they are not battle-hardened cricketers. They will get there, but we need to see some results soon."