Report & Reaction: Hampshire v Surrey, Vitality CC

Read the match report & hear reaction from Hampshire's Vitality County Championship match against Surrey at Utilita Bowl

Day Three

Spinners Felix Organ and Liam Dawson tore through Surrey to hand the champions their largest-ever Vitality County Championship innings defeat and open up the title race.

Off-spinner Organ claimed his third career five-for with leg-armer Dawson picking up four for 45 to give Hampshire an innings and 277 run victory, their first home win of the campaign, and their largest-ever victory.

Surrey's only heavier defeats in first-class cricket came in 1866 against England - a match in which WG Grace scored a double century - and in 1948 versus Don Bradman's Australians - both an innings and 296 runs.

It was Surrey’s fourth defeat since the start of 2022 – with two of those coming after they had already secured their back-to-back crowns – with Essex and Somerset hot on their heels at the summit of Division One.

Surrey were given a minimum of 172 overs to avoid an innings defeat, and got through to the 17th over unscathed but from then on wickets fell regularly.

For the spin-fest that followed, the first man to fall, Rory Burns, departed to pace as Keith Barker found the Surrey captain edging to first slip.

From then on, it was Dawson piling in the pressure and Organ celebrating with his usual exuberance.

Serial blocker Dom Sibley had navigated 85 deliveries before an inside edge onto his pad ballooned to silly mid-off, before Organ produced a wicked off-spinner to pin back Ollie Pope’s middle stump.

Organ has history with Surrey. In 2019, on his fifth first-class appearance, he was forced into the attack due to unsuitable conditions for fast bowlers. The then-predominantly batter claimed five for 25 to secure a three-day victory.

It began his mythologised bowling strike-rate for Hampshire, which currently stands at 46 and is the best of any other spinner in the club’s history – Shane Warne included.

Jamie Smith was his next victim as a change-up delivery slid into middle and off stumps.

Dan Lawrence took a different approach from his defence-minded team-mates as he reverse swept his first ball to the boundary before switching to the opposite rope with a conventional sweep next delivery.

His attacking got him up to 42, but saw his downfall when he chopped Organ onto his stumps.

Having spent the best part of two days laying on the physio’s table with back spasms, Ben Foakes’ innings was heroic in his resolve. The England wicket-keeper faced 107 balls for his unbeaten 19.

But wickets continued to clatter, with Dawson now taking the limelight. Cam Steel was brilliantly caught at first slip by Vince after a deflection off Ben Brown’s gloves before Jordan Clark was yorked.

Organ got his five-for when Sean Abbott chipped to mid on, before Dawson closed out Hampshire’s second win in a row by bowling Gus Atkinson around his legs and, after some slapping around, Dan Worrall skied for 48 - Surrey's highest score of the match. The visitors bowled out for 127 and 203.

Earlier, Ben Brown, on 99 overnight, carted the first ball of the day to the boundary to reach his 24th first-class century, and second since arriving from Sussex.

It meant that Hampshire had three centurions in a single innings for the 14th time in their history, and first and Utilita Bowl.

Hampshire were all-out attack to send their lead sky-high but it meant Liam Dawson tickled a ramp behind to end a 183-run stand with Brown – a county record for the fifth wicket against Surrey, to go alongside a record second wicket partnership earlier in the innings.

Michael Neser hoicked to deep square but James Fuller joined up with Brown to put on 66 – the fifth 50-plus stand of the innings – with the pair dragging weary boundary riders at their will.

Brown – who had played a number of outrageous short-arm jabs on the off and on sides, to and over the boundary – passed his highest first-class score to end 165 not out before James Vince declared with his side 481 runs ahead.

Hampshire’s 608 for six declared was their 13th-largest total of all-time and the third-highest Championship score at the ground.

Day Two

Toby Albert grabbed his chance to score his maiden Vitality County Championship century and Nick Gubbins plundered his first as a father as Hampshire took complete control over Surrey.

Homegrown batter Albert took advantage of Ali Orr’s back problems to grind out a ton on his sixth first-class appearance as he and Gubbins knocked up Hampshire’s highest second-wicket stand against Surrey.

After the 201-run partnership had ended, Gubbins raised his bat on his second century of the campaign in his first innings since daughter Ottilie was born two weeks ago.

James Vince, Ben Brown and Liam Dawson also grabbed half-centuries as Hampshire piled on 495 for four to boast a huge 368-run lead over the champions. 

Albert had ended last season opening the batting with Fletcha Middleton, but his unsteady performances saw him lose his place when Orr was signed from Sussex in the winter.

A couple of multi-day fifties had kept the pressure on Orr and Middleton, but the incumbents’ centuries meant there was no place for Albert.

He had begun last week pumping the Royal Air Force for an outrageous 86 off 31 balls before taking apart Sussex’s Second XI with 51 off 33 balls, as he prepared for the Vitality Blast.

But back spasms for Orr meant he was given a fresh chance in the Championship side, and gave head coach Adi Birrell and Co a massive future selection headache.

Albert, the son of two Olympic equestrians, had ground out 34 in 139 balls on the first evening to make sure Hampshire didn’t follow Surrey’s 127 collapse – during which he and Middleton scored Hampshire’s first fifty opening stand of the season.

He and Gubbins trotted through into a lead within half an hour on a more proactive second morning, with their fifties coming in 173 and 109 deliveries.

Albert was completely chanceless in his century, which came in 280 deliveries, despite a strong Surrey attack bowling accurately, but ineffectually. He top-edged to fine-leg on 114 to end his mammoth innings and end a record alliance against Surrey – beating the 180 Roy Marshall and Henry Horton put on at the Oval in 1961.

Gubbins had started his season in good form, with 50, 69 not out, 119 and 45 the shining lights in his six innings. But he had missed the second innings versus Durham and the victory over Nottinghamshire when on paternity leave.

Ottilie got her first taste of Utilita Bowl on the first evening, as she posed with a padded-up Gubbins at the end of the day – which was posted on his Instagram Story with the caption “introducing Ottie to the bowl.”

Her late-night feeds haven’t impacted Gubbins’ batting, with the left-hander as assured as ever for his 18th first-class century.

Once that milestone was hit the target for Hampshire was bonus points, which Vince’s aggressive approach was perfect for. He secured a second batting point with 40 in 37 balls, before heading to fifty in 49, as Hampshire cantered.

Ben Foakes remained off the field due to his own back spasms throughout the day, with Jamie Smith taking the gloves. And he ended Vince’s onslaught on 52 when the home skipper was strangled down the leg side by Dan Worrall, with Gubbins previously well caught at gully off the Australian-born quick.

Brown and Dawson reached their half-centuries at a gallop during an unbroken 157-run partnership - with the former unbeaten on 99 overnight.

Day One

Kyle Abbott became Utilita Bowl’s greatest-ever wicket-taker as Hampshire showed a chink in champions Surrey’s quest for a third straight Vitality County Championship crown.

Fast bowler Abbott overtook Dimi Mascarenhas’ 186 scalps at the ground as his predatory post-lunch spell of five for 25 put him on 188 home wickets since initially arriving in 2014.

The South African was supplemented by Liam Dawson’s three for 21 as Surrey were rolled for 127 – although with the warning that they have recovered from 15 for four to beat Worcestershire last week.

To add to Surrey, and potentially England’s, woes, wicket-keeper Ben Foakes didn’t keep wicket due to a back spasm, as Hampshire ground out a glacial 102 for one.

A relatively even morning session was headlined by Dawson picking off Surrey’s distinguished top-order, after the visitors had chosen to bat first on a used pitch.

The left-arm spinner entered the attack in the 10th over and stuck after just four deliveries, as Dom Sibley returned a simple caught and bowled.

After a missed chance to stump Rory Burns, Ollie Pope attempted to pump Dawson over long-on but mistimed to Keith Barker at mid-on to hand the all-rounder his 300th first-class wicket for Hampshire.

His 301st came soon after when Burns turned to short leg, before Jamie Smith ended the morning session by having his stumps rearranged by debutant Michael Neser – the Australian coming in for Mohammed Abbas, who has returned home.

The interval score of 89 for four slightly flattered the hosts, but when they returned, Abbott got his tail up and demolished the middle and lower order.

Abbott became a father for the first time over the winter and also went on a fitness regime that returned him to a similar physique to the one he had as a Test bowler.

The primary reason for the latter was to have the same energy and strength at the end of a long session or day with which he had started.

It was really Felix Organ who got things rolling, as he snatched a wonderful diving catch at square-leg to dismiss Dan Lawrence. But from then on it was peak Abbott and his skilful bowling.

He nipped in to displace Foakes’ middle stump, before another in-ducker found Jordan Clark’s outside edge for a duck. At that point, Abbott had taken three wickets without conceding a run after lunch.

Abbott overtook Mascarenhas by getting a ball to lift on Sean Abbott, and then completed his 38th five-wicket haul of his career by cleaning up Gus Atkinson. All five wickets had come in a 34-ball burst.

Neser rounded off the innings by pegging back Cam Steel’s off stump to end a Surrey collapse which had seen seven wickets fall for 38 runs. It was their lowest total since the last innings of last season – which came on this ground having secured the title the day before.

The grey skies that had partnered Surrey’s innings were replaced by blue ones as Fletcha Middleton and Toby Albert – in for another back spasm victim Ali Orr – built a 51-run stand for the first wicket.

The duo took little risk, with dot balls comprising of 85 per cent of their partnership, but were split when Middleton tickled a sweep shot behind to Smith – who had replaced Foakes behind the stumps.

For Albert it was a contrast from the 51 off 33 balls and 86 off 31 balls he had scored earlier this week in T20 matches for the Second XI. In his first 100 balls he only scored 19 runs, and ended the day with a barely quicker 34 off 139 - having put on 51 with Nick Gubbins.

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