Surrey 560 for 7 dec (Amla 215 retired hurt, Pope 131, Burns 80, Smith 78, Currie 4-109) beat Hampshire 92 (Clark 6-21) and 179 (McManus 51, Roach 8-40) by an innings and 289 runs
Hampshire needed to see out five-and-a-half sessions when Surrey eventually declared 80 minutes before lunch on the third day at The Oval, and when they lost 5 for 25 in 10.1 overs spanning the interval it was inevitable that they would be on the wrong end of a drubbing. Kemar Roach made sure of it, returning career-best figures of 8 for 40 to inflict Hampshire’s heaviest innings defeat in 110 years and give Surrey a much-needed win after a slow start to the season.
Roach’s wickets were split across three spells and were a testament to his ability to swing both the new and the old ball. He took three in eight balls towards the end of his first spell, two in seven in his second, and three in 13 in his third, with late inswingers his lethal weapon. No other bowler managed to get the old ball to move off the straight in this match, but Roach tailed it in appreciably. After Hashim Amla’s double-century, this was a victory laced with international quality.
“It was going conventionally, not reversing,” Roach said. “The way I gripped the ball was a little looser today. It was overcast conditions so the ball was going to do something once you put it in the right areas and stayed strong at the crease. The guys worked incredibly well on the ball and the information I got on the field about different batsmen and their weaknesses worked fantastically.”
Roach’s luck had been out throughout his last visit to these shores: he took eight wickets at 36.50 in West Indies’ 2-1 defeat here last summer, a scant return for the 126 ‘out-of-control’ shots he drew according to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data. The streak had continued in the first two appearances of his six-match stint with Surrey, in which he returned three wickets at 75.00 despite beating both edges of the bat throughout both matches.
This was a return to fortune as much as form, even if he had two catches put down off his bowling: Jamie Overton juggled a chance at third slip and Ollie Pope failed to cling on while diving to his left in the gully. Liam Dawson was aggrieved to have been given out lbw to an inswinger that would have missed leg stump, but few would begrudge Roach a slice of luck after his fruitless hard yards.
“I’m classed as one of the most unlucky bowlers there is,” he said. “I bowled a lot of overs in the previous two games and didn’t get a lot of rewards, so to get eight – and ten in the game – is a fantastic feeling; to do it with a bunch of great guys is even better.”
Before the start of this season, Sam Northeast declared that Hampshire were in a “win-now scenario”, terminology borrowed from the NFL to describe teams with several senior players that are either peaking or who have already done so. His logic was sound: they have a core of batters aged 30 or 31 in James Vince, Ian Holland, Dawson and Northeast himself, two overseas seamers in their early thirties, and a handful of young players in Joe Weatherley, Mason Crane and Tom Alsop who have bedded into the first team over the last three years.
Things appeared to have clicked in the first three rounds: they won two and came very close to a third, with wickets easy to come by. The batting unit appeared rock-solid, with five of the top six making hundreds, but was brittle this week: Northeast and Vince are perhaps the best No. 4/5 combination in the country, but made 14 runs between them in the match. Northeast played a poor shot to be caught at second slip in both innings, while Vince’s innings on Saturday was straight out of his personal playbook: two sumptuous drives before feathering an edge behind.
They will reflect that they had the worst of the conditions, batting under grey skies against the new ball in both innings, and that Abbas and Abbott will rarely be so ineffective, but this was a chastening three days all the same: they head back down the M3 with a solitary bonus point.
The sole positive was the performance of Scott Currie, making his Championship debut aged 19 after a single appearance in the Bob Willis Trophy last summer. Currie, a beanpole seamer who played football for Portsmouth’s academy, found good bounce from a length throughout, and ended with four wickets as Surrey chased quick runs in the morning session. That extra spice should be enough for him to keep his place if Mason Crane returns to the side to play Somerset next week, with Brad Wheal the likelier omission.
Amla, unbeaten on 215 overnight, had retired hurt with a stiff neck, leaving Daniel Norcross to wonder on Surrey’s live stream: “Has a man ever had a more perfect game of cricket?” Two-and-a-half hours at mid-on in the first innings, six hours of quiet accumulation with the bat, and a day with his feet up in the dressing room would suggest not.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98