Surrey negotiated the best part of the final day to draw with Northamptonshire despite the strong efforts of the bowling attack and will take a slender advantage into the final week of the LV= Insurance County Championship season.
Surrey were asked to follow on 172 runs behind after being bowled out for 185 in reply to Northamptonshire’s 357.
Openers Dom Sibley and Rory Burns faced some testing new-ball bowling from the Northamptonshire seamers after lunch and throughout the final two sessions in some of the best batting conditions of a rain-affected four days.
When the players came off at 4.20pm for bad light and the players shook hands with 19 overs remaining, Surrey had reached 142-0 with Burns unbeaten on 71 and Sibley 67.
Surrey’s first innings, which resumed on 158 for six, lasted for only another 52 minutes and 11.2 overs on the final morning as Northamptonshire showed some class with the ball, taking the remaining four wickets for just 27 runs.
Jamie Overton, who had struck a half-century on the third afternoon, added a single before edging Jack White to first slip on 51 and, in White’s next over, Dan Worrall was bowled for a duck to continue the bowler’s impressive red ball campaign.
Tom Lawes made seven before giving Karun Nair his second catch of the morning at first slip, this time off Sanderson, and Ben Foakes – on 33 overnight – was now left with last man Kemar Roach for company.
Foakes chipped away for a while but, on 42, went across his stumps in a bid to whip Taylor’s fast-medium away to mid-wicket and was leg-before. Tom Taylor finished with first innings figures of two for 39 and there were also two wickets for both Ben Sanderson and Luke Procter, in support of the impressive Jack White’s four for 45.
Sibley survived two strong LBW appeals in successive overs from Ben Sanderson on 12 and Tom Taylor on 13, the first pitching marginally outside the line and the second possibly sliding down the leg side.
After lunch it got easier for Surrey, with Burns passing fifty for the fourth time this season while Sibley lodged his fifth half-century of the summer with the Northamptonshire bowlers continuing to fight until the very end.
By the end Northamptonshire had used nine different bowlers, their hopes of victory and avoiding a return to Division Two all but certain regardless of how many points Kent and Middlesex pick up from their games against Somerset and Warwickshire respectively.