Surrey rounded off their third successive win in impressive fashion before lunch on the final day to go within a single point of the second promotion spot. Going in to the final round of games next week the top three teams are now covered by ten points and Gloucestershire, in fourth, lie just 8 points further back.
Surrey didn't give the expected rain time to have an impact and they got the day off to the best possible start, Tim Linley had ten Doeschate LBW off his third ball of the morning. It was to be his only success as Chris Jordan took over the wicket taking duties. Jordan bowled an unbroken spell of 11 overs but it wasn't until five or six overs in that he made the first breakthrough. He'd beaten the bat several times but looked destined to go wicketless again. I'd have hauled him off and given Meaker a go earlier but in to Hamilton-Brown's great credit he stuck with him and was handsomely rewarded.
First Jordan had Foster excellently caught at slip by Gareth Batty. That was the cue Graham Napier had been waiting for as he began to tee off. Stuart Meaker took most of the pain from Napier who ended with 80 from 64 deliveries - he's now scored 72% of his Championship runs for 2011 in two knocks against us.
Masters was Jordan's next wicket and the first of three catches off the same bowler to Mark Ramprakash. Napier was finally out in the 68th over having put together a 53 run partnership in six overs with Tom Craddock to which Craddock contributed precisely zero runs. Craddock himself was the last man out off the very next ball as Jordan, who has set two personal bests with the bat in the last three days, returned career-best figures of 4-57 - he can consider it a job very well done and I hope it proves a turning point for him.
We now face a game against Derbyshire who themselves completed a 101 run win over Kent today, on Monday and currently the weather forecast is predicting showers. Northamptonshire face fourth placed Gloucestershire at Wantage Road - a game which both sides have much riding on. With the CB40 final a week today, most of the Surrey players face by far the biggest week of their cricketing careers.
A month ago, on the back of a 265 run defeat to Kent, I'd almost completely given up hope that promotion was possible. Three wins on the bounce later we're the form side in the division and we're just four good days of cricket away from division one in 2012. For the first time in a very long while we're starting to look like we belong there. Credit to Hamilton-Brown and Adams who have resisted any major shuffling of the pack and the players have delivered in spades. Here's hoping that the players can stick to their task, seven more days of hard graft and you can have a well earned rest.