Surrey 351 (Burns 90, Elgar 75, Clarke 56) and 2 for 0 beats Essex 126 (Westley 49, Clarke 4-28) and 226 (Bopara 81, Clarke 4-47 ) by 10 windows
Not since 1999, Surrey won eight championship games on the rebound, and his current career certainly has a feeling of once in a generation. That race was due in large part to the double-turn threat from Saqlain Mushtaq and Ian Salisbury; This time, it's all been about the sealers.
On the third day in Chelmsford, led by Morne Morkel and evergreen Rikki Clarke, they threw Essex for the second time in just three sessions to go 43 points ahead of the championship, and make sure to secure the pennant before the last round of games. Ravi Bopara offered strong resistance with an unbeaten 81, but despite being far from his best bull, the attack to the pace of Surrey was simply too good.
For some time this accessory had been designated as a final test of Surrey credentials. Far from home against the reigning champions, it should have been a difficult challenge; instead, they sailed to victory with a full day to spare.
Surrey has shown over the course of the year that championship cricket requires a squad instead of just one team. They have used 20 players, and Tom Curran, who did the damage early, was playing for the second time in this competition this season, showed his impressive level of depth.
Curran was fearsome in his opening pop, running in with the neck lifted and the hair combed backwards. He caught Varun Chopra lbw early, before he beat the outside edge of Tom Westley over and over and eventually ended his difficult stay in the fold by making his stump turn over.
It seems that Curran made his bow at the MCG in December, and his younger brother, Sam, has outperformed him in England's long-term plans this summer. But Tom is still an excellent bowler at the Championship level, and his first spell of the day was a reminder of his worth in red-ball cricket. He shot with hostility and an extra step of speed, and found enough movement outside the seam to keep Essex guessing.
The destroyer of the middle order was again Clarke. He made good use of a useful throw to eliminate Dan Lawrence and Nick Browne, both caught in the slips of the back-of-the-length balls that rose sharply, before Rory Burns's impressive capture in the ravine explained that Ryan Doeschate is gone Essex has five years to eat lunch.
At that time, the only question was whether Essex could or did not return to Surrey's bat, and thanks to Bopara and some antiquated slogging from Jamie Porter and Sam Cook, they did. Bopara was the only Essex hitter in the entire game who was comfortable in the fold, as he rotated the strike well and scored both sides of the wicket. When he brought out a half-century of 76 balls, he had hit only three limits; It was a possibility that highlighted the importance of ticking against quality bowling.
But, in truth, the blow of Bopara only served to delay the inevitable. Morkel returned to eliminate Simon Harmer for a couple, and then finished Porter's fun after a couple of Clarke's limits, before Bopara and Cook added 18 to leave Surrey with two.
The impact that Morkel has had on this Surrey team can not be overstated. His Championship debut was the first game of this eight-game winning race, and it would be brave to suggest that it is somehow a coincidence. He now has 42 wickets at 14.57, and he has terrorized the Division One hitter across the country. He did not play as well as he could here, but a pair of sharp goalkeepers against Michael Pepper and Porter showed that their pace has not diminished.
Surrey now goes to New Road next week to play in the lower Worcestershire club in the knowledge that a win will effectively, if not mathematically, seal the title with two games to spare. Based on this race, they will be worthy winners.