Surrey 267 (Pope 69*, Burns 59, Coad 5-53) and 89 for 0 (Burns 55*, Stoneman 32*) require a further 139 runs to beat Yorkshire 342 (Tattersall 70, Bresnan 54, Dernbach 4-104) and 152 (Morkel 5-39)
“Roll up, roll up, roll up and see the Mighty Morkel! He’s 6ft 5ins tall, he bowls at 85mph, he eats Tykes for breakfast.” Well, yes, in the era of furled brollies and homburg hats the imposing skills of the Surrey quick bowler might have earned him a job entertaining the holidaymakers in Scarborough’s Peasholm Park. This afternoon, however, he was more gainfully employed destroying Yorkshire’s batting with a rare display of fierce pace allied to steep bounce and accuracy. Then he watched his batsmen take strides as great as his own towards victory.
It in intriguing to ponder the contribution Morkel might make to Surrey’s attempt to win their first County Championship since 2003. On this sunburning Wednesday he made light of his side conceding a 75-run first-innings lead but was surely impressed by the manner in which Ollie Pope’s unbeaten 69 limited that advantage to manageable proportions. Bowling from the Peasholm Park and displaying barely unassuageable aggression, Morkel then whipped out the first three Yorkshire batsmen with only 24 runs on the board.
Alex Lees, whose shot selection currently comes from the Chamber of Horrors, tried to drive him down the ground – yes, really – and was caught at mid-on by Jade Dernbach. Adam Lyth was less culpable; his leg glance was pouched by Pope, for whom cricket is a gloriously simple game at present. Gary Ballance was cramped for room and caught at point by Will Jacks.
His task accomplished for the moment, Morkel let others put their hands to the plough. Harry Brooks fenced outside off stump and fell to Rikki Clarke. Chesteshwar Pujara, whose time in the Broad Acres has not been a success, was bowled when playing no stroke to Jade Dernbach. Yorkshire were then 48 for 5 and Peter May’s Boys took in some sun. For summer returned to Scarborough after Tuesday’s mist and Yorkshiremen also enjoyed it, even as they agonised over the state of their county’s top order. This is still one of the great weeks of their year, after all.
For others, the holiday has not begun. Trains arrow through York, Malton and Seamer before reaching this town with its curious division of the littoral. In the South Bay, “Kiss Me Quick”; in the North, “Have We Met”. In the first sun-trap, folk who have only lately arrived wear holiday uniforms and race towards holiday tans and blurred memories. In the second, a loftier location in so many ways, they take the air, ponder the view and remember the times when they, too, went in search of something. One sees John Betjeman, trousers rolled up to his knees, giggling at the fun of it all.
Inside the ground Surrey went in search of further wickets. Jack Leaning perished when nibbling at Morkel but the change bowlers were frustrated by the obduracy of Jonny Tattersall and the barely concealed belligerence of Tim Bresnan. Amar Virdi wheeled away from the Peasholm Park End as the hills towards Cromer Point and Burniston jellied in the haze.
Then Bresnan pushed forward to Ryan Patel’s medium pace and Pope took his fourth catch of the day. For Surrey’s supporters the scent of victory was as strong as that of the sea and they enjoyed seeing a Northern summer in full blazon. Gulls curved without effort in front of Trafalgar Square’s four-storey houses, some of which could do with renovation. “Voyez, ces oiseaux blancs et ces maisons rouillées,” sang Charles Trenet joyously in “La Mer”.
Morkel collected his first five-wicket haul for Surrey when he had Tattersall leg before and Dernbach dismissed the final two batsmen in the space of three balls. Surrey needed 228 to win and the home crowd looked forward to a wicket-strewn evening. Instead Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman ended a frenetic day, on and off the field, by putting on 89 runs in 25 overs, their perfect composure stifling opponents and spectators alike.
Surrey require another 139 runs and are now very strong favourites. If Yorkshiremen need some consolation or tranquillity, there is, as ever, the ocean. Looking out into the North Bay this perfect evening, a mighty ship seemed motionless on the horizon, a grey hyphen between the different blues of sky and sea