Bob Willis Trophy: Simon Harmer takes 8-64 as Essex beat Surrey at Chelmsford

Essex's Simon Harmer
Simon Harmer has taken 237 first-class wickets for Essex since joining them for the 2017 season
Bob Willis Trophy, Cloudfm County Ground (day four):
Essex 262 & 261: Walter 46, A Cook 42; Finch 4-38, Virdi 4-85
Surrey 187 & 167: Smith 45; Harmer 8-64
Essex (21 pts) beat Surrey (3 pts) by 169 runs

Simon Harmer spun his way to match figures of 14-131 as county champions Essex beat Surrey by 169 runs to make it two wins out of two in the Bob Willis Trophy.

Off-spinner Harmer, who had taken 6-67 in the first innings, produced his well-worn fourth-innings trick by steamrolling Surrey with 8-64.

He had been on course for the first 10-wicket haul in county cricket since Ottis Gibson for Durham in 2007 but Aaron Beard struck twice to deny him a clean sweep.

Harmer, who bowled unchanged from his River End on day four, is playing through an abductor strain, which medical staff had recommended would rule him out for up to six weeks.

With 20 victims in two matches this season, he continues his quest to be the country's leading red-ball wicket-taker for a second successive season.

Essex, who have now won their last 15 first-class matches at the Cloudfm County Ground, jump to the top of the South Group table, while heavily depleted Surrey remain the only winless side..

Harmer had started his haul with the last ball of the third day, when Mark Stoneman was leg before to one which did not turn - with Surrey requiring an unlikely 310 to win from the final day.

It took 23 morning deliveries to breakthrough Scott Borthwick's defences as he attempted a forward defence only to see the ball spin off his outside edge and into Adam Wheater's gloves.

Ryan Patel and Will Jacks providing a blocking rearguard, blocking out 97 and 93 balls respectively.

Patel lapsed for a moment to sky a pull to Jamie Porter at mid-wicket while attempting to cash in on a shorter delivery from Harmer.

But Jacks shared a 51-run stand with Jamie Smith as the pair held Essex up for 20 further overs.

Having refuelled over lunch, Harmer took his next two wickets in three balls, with Jacks pinned on the back foot and Laurie Evans stumped by Wheater after skipping down the track.

Rikki Clarke twice used his feet to strike Harmer for boundaries down the ground but departed for 14 from 27 balls when Varun Chopra held on to a simple catch at short leg.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Smith scored 45 in 89 balls but departed when he edged Beard to second slip, where Harmer swooped low to pull off a stunning catch.

Harmer returned to his first-skill again in the next over as Gus Atkinson, who had hit him for six, ran past a straight one to be bowled.

Beard saw off James Taylor, caught at cover, for a seven-ball duck beforeHarmer wrapped up the victory when Amar Virdi slapped to mid off.

Essex spinner Simon Harmer:

"The wicket at Chelmsford always suits me. When the wicket is turning, I'm going to cash in as much as I can and that's what I did. I knew they would be under pressure.

"When I got to six wickets the boys started talking about how if I pulled my finger out then I might have been able to get all 10.

"Those things don't happen very often in cricket but I'll take that catch and an eight-for any day."

Surrey head coach Vikram Solanki:

"There are certainly some experienced campaigners in that Essex side and we got some things right but there is no getting away from the fact we missed in other parts as well.

"You are always going to be on the back foot at Chelmsford when you lose the toss and Harmer is the biggest threat.

"To bowl Essex out for 262 and 261 is a credit to the young bowlers. We need to be mindful of keeping the bowlers in some sort of a healthy state because the numbers are down."

Match report by PA Media.

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