Surrey failed to even take the game beyond lunch on day three as Durham ran out easy victors by an innings and 38 runs to jump to seventh place in the Championship table.
The day started badly for Surrey and, broadly speaking, got worse fairly rapidy. The sixth ball of the day, bowled by Chris Rushworth, did for Tim Linley as the nightwatchman fell leg before wicket. The tail did at least manage to hold the Durham charge a bit, the 7th, 8th and 9th wicket partnerships were the three highest in the innings - though this says more about the top order failings than it does about the lower order.
Rory Burns' dogged innings was ended by Graham Onions, his 38 came from 130 balls and was comfortably Surrey's best score of the game. His reputation continues to grow, he seems to be able to find a way of scoring runs and is certainly not one-paced. Spriegel and Batty kept Durham at bay for another 12 overs before the former fell to an excellent Ben Stokes catch off the bowling of Thorp. The innings was ended before the next ten overs were out as Scott Borthwick picked off the tail enders.
This is an embarrassing defeat against fellow strugglers Durham, who leapfrogged us in the table. A poor decision to bat first followed by a poor display with the bat killed any hope of winning this game very early on day one. Thanks to having one of the paltry three points we collected in this game shorn off because of a slow over rate (again), we now sit perilously close to the relegation spots. Worcestershire look as though they may struggle to defend their total against Warwickshire, we have to hope they do as they still have a game in hand over us.
In the post-match interview Chris Adams drew the parallel with this time last season, when we were badly beaten by Kent and had to win our final four games to be sure of promotion. There is some merit in that, insofar as it ain't over till it's over, but the two situations are not the same. Last season we had a high quality spinner in prime form and we were facing Division Two opposition. With the greatest of respect to the clubs involved, facing Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Essex with Pragyan Ojha to do the bowling is not the same as facing Middlesex, Somerset and Nottinghamshire without Pragyan Ojha.
Adams hopes to have Rory Hamilton-Brown to call on in the next match and his return cannot come soon enough. He should step into Zander de Bruyn's shoes, he is averaging just 18 from 20 innings this season. With two of the final four games at the Oval, and against two teams without quality front-line spinners, we have no choice but to prepare raging turners and hope Murali Kartik can justify his pay cheque and win us both of them. Such is the brittle nature of our batting there is an argument for bringing in a short term overseas replacement to shore up that department, but Adams' comment post-match make that seem very unlikely.
It is true that all is not yet completely lost. Lancashire and Worcestershire are not in great form either and although Durham appear to be coming good at just the right time, we only need to finish above two teams to survive. The problem is that like winning, losing can become a habit and with so few in-form batsmen anywhere in the squad, it is hard to see where the next win is coming from. Something dramatic needs to happen, and it needs to start happening next Wednesday against Middlesex.