BAIRSTOW or bust.
This was pretty much the nub of it going into the final day and, once Jonny Bairstow fell in the fourth over of the morning, caught behind off a sharply rising ball from Rikki Clarke, Yorkshire’s hopes of saving this match were effectively over, Surrey going on to win by an innings and 17 runs.
Not that Bairstow was culpable in any way, shape or form for Yorkshire’s second defeat in five Championship games this season.
On the contrary, without his blistering first innings 95 from 94 balls, including 15 boundaries, they would probably have lost inside three days – notwithstanding the loss of the last two sessions to rain on day two.
Once again Yorkshire’s batting let them down as surely as the average teenager lets down a parent.
Take out Bairstow’s contribution of 124 runs in the match, with the wicketkeeper making his last appearance before the international summer, and it was another sorry tale of batting disappointments.
However, on an unusually competitive Oval pitch, which offered help for the bowlers throughout, Yorkshire felt that they should have turned the screw after having Surrey 162-6 on the opening day.
Instead, key chances went begging as the hosts rallied to 414, with Yorkshire forced to follow-on after replying with 229 before subsiding to 168 in their second innings.
“There’s been a lot of chat about our batting, and we’ve under-performed since the start of the season, but I think what cost us was getting Surrey 160-6 and then missing four chances from that point,” said Joe Root, who captained the team in place of the ill Gary Ballance.
“If we’d bowled them out for 230, 240, we’d have had a really good game on our hands, and I think that’s probably what cost us in the end.
We’ve still won two games this year without playing anywhere near our best, so if we can get it right I think we’ll be a really strong side and right up there at the end of the season.Joe Root
“We’re not far away (batting-wise), and it’s been very challenging conditions since the start of the season.
“But we’ve still won two games this year without playing anywhere near our best, so if we can get it right I think we’ll be a really strong side and right up there at the end of the season.”
Like Bairstow, Root disappears now for the international season, with England facing Test series against Pakistan and India.
The Test captain did not produce the scores that he was looking for in Yorkshire colours, his innings of 14 and 23 in this game following scores of 0 and 35 against Essex at Chelmsford.
“When you come back to Yorkshire you want to perform and give something back to the side, so it’s been a little bit disappointing on my own part,” he said. “But that’s cricket and it can be challenging sometimes. I didn’t come into these games to get ready for the Test matches; I made sure I did my preparation before them so that I could perform well for Yorkshire. But, unfortunately, it’s just not materialised.”
The Oval was bathed in glorious sunshine to see if Yorkshire could produce an unlikely escape.
A stiff breeze fluttered the flags on top of the red-bricked pavilion and a healthy crowd gathered for the final day of Championship cricket anywhere until June 9 – and Yorkshire’s last until June 20, with the Royal London Cup now taking centre stage.
Yorkshire went into the final day on 142-5, 43 behind, with Bairstow on 25 and Jack Leaning 13.
Bairstow whipped the left-arm pace of Sam Curran for four through mid-wicket in his only scoring stroke of the morning before he nibbled at the ball from Clarke that nestled in the gloves of wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
Curran removed Tim Bresnan for the second time in the match for a single when he had him caught behind off an inside-edge, the ball cutting the former England all-rounder in two as he tried to defend at the Pavilion End.
Curran then uprooted the off-stumps of Steve Patterson and Josh Shaw in the space of five balls, neither pace man troubling the scorers.
Yorkshire’s fate was sealed after just 45 minutes when Leaning was trapped lbw by Clarke, the batsman pretty much walking before the umpire confirmed the decision.
Curran finished with 10-101 as Surrey completed their first Championship win against Yorkshire at The Oval since September, 2001.
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first-team coach, reflected: “It was disappointing not to back up last week’s win (at Chelmsford), and we can talk about the batting again, which was below-par.
“But we had them on the rack on the first day and should have bowled them out for under 250, because it definitely wasn’t a 400 pitch.
“We’ve spoken at length about our batting, and it’s almost gone past that now – it’s about standing up and doing it, simple as that.
“But a lot of credit to Surrey, they outplayed us.”