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Surrey win English County Championship

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Surrey retained their English County Championship title on Thursday after Essex’s slim hopes ended due to a batting collapse against Northamptonshire.

A 20-point gap between the top two Division One teams heading into the final round of four-day fixtures meant Surrey required just five points to hold on to their crown.

Even with several England players such as Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Ben Foakes in their line-up, they failed to take any batting bonus points against Hampshire.

That left the door slightly ajar for Essex, who needed to post a 400-plus score in 110 overs at Wantage Road to keep the title race alive.

But in response to Northamptonshire’s 369, Essex were all out for 211, former England captain Alastair Cook making just six, which meant they could no longer catch Surrey, who could celebrate their fifth championship crown since the turn of the century.

London-based Surrey are the first side to retain the County Championship title since Yorkshire, who won back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015.

Yorkshire have won the most titles outright with 33 while Surrey are their nearest challengers having secured their 21st.

Surrey assistant coach Jade Dernbach said it had been difficult for his players to focus on their own match, knowing the importance of events at Essex.

“With any Surrey team there is always an amount of responsibility and pressure that comes with being at the biggest county in the country,” he told the BBC.

“We knew that, having won the title last year, there would be teams hot on our heels trying to chase us. It wasn’t a case of just defending the title, it was a case of retaining it — and we always had that positive mindset.”

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