A brilliant knock of 53 not out from Ryan ten Doeschate saw Essex earn a nerve-wracking one-wicket win over champions Surrey on the final day of the County Championship season at The Oval.
Surrey’s brilliant performance in the field was spearheaded by Morne Morkel before Essex, just about managed to chase down the their 132 target.
Jade Dernbach and Amar Virdi also played their part, sharing the other four wickets, but could not prevent Surrey losing their unbeaten record in Division One this term.
A wonderful finish also included a crazy run-out of Matt Coles when, for some unknown reason, Ten Doeschate called his partner for a third run that was not there.
Ten Doeschate had driven Morkel towards the extra-cover boundary but Mark Stoneman dived to pull back the ball just feet from the ropes and Will Jacks, who had sprinted to support his team-mate, threw to keeper Ben Foakes with Coles stranded.
Suddenly, 122 for eight had become 124 for nine, and Ten Doeschate was left with just last man Matt Quinn for company as he tried to get his side over the line.
A crucial leg bye, though, gained despite Dernbach barging into non-striker Quinn as he tried to get to the ball, meant Ten Doeschate kept the strike for Morkel’s 12th over and the 38-year-old took a two and a single from the second and third balls to take Essex to within two runs of victory.
Quinn survived the last three balls of Morkel’s over, despite needing attention when an 88mph bouncer thudded into the grille of his helmet, and Ten Doeschate turned Dernbach for the winning boundary in the next over.
Morkel had triggered early Essex jitters by producing an absolute beauty of a leg-cutter which pitched on middle and hit the top of Murali Vijay’s off stump.
Nick Browne then drove at off-spinner Virdi and was adjudged caught at slip by Rikki Clarke even though Sky Sports television replays suggested that bat had not come into contact with the turning ball.
Dan Lawrence lifted Virdi high over long-on for six but, on 10, he was surprised by the steep bounce of Dernbach’s first ball and edged to Clarke at first slip.
And, in the next over, Ravi Bopara’s match to forget was completed when he was given out caught at short-leg off Virdi for a seven-ball duck, leaving Essex 47 for four.
Dernbach, in a sharp spell of 4-2-7-2, also forced Tom Westley to edge a lifter into the safe hands of Clarke but, from 55 for five, Ten Doeschate and Adam Wheater steadied Essex with some selective strokeplay.
Wheater, though, was fortunate to survive on 10 when he top-edged a reverse sweep at Virdi and saw Dernbach fail to hold on to a shoulder-high chance as he dived to his left at backward point.
But, on 11, he edged a rapid leg-cutter from the returning Morkel to second slip where Ryan Patel held on to a sharp catch.
Three balls later and it was 97 for seven, with Morkel producing another wickedly lifting ball to have Simon Harmer, a first-innings century-maker, caught by keeper Foakes for nought.
Morkel struck again to pin Jamie Porter lbw for four with a near-yorker before Ten Doeschate finally saw his side home at the death.
Essex had earlier taken 26.2 more overs – and 142.2 in total – to work their way through the rest of Surrey’s tenacious second innings after the Championship winners had resumed on 477 for five.
MMA fighter disqualified for trying crazy air assault after KO
Why is Patrick Reed getting booed at the 2018 Ryder Cup?
LA TEAR UP
Fury will fight Wilder at the Staples Center in Los Angeles
Saunders insists he is 'clean' after adverse test, BBBofC say no rules breached
Oleksandr Usyk backed to beat Tony Bellew and Anthony Joshua by world's best boxer
Ryder Cup 2018: Live talkSPORT commentary and tee times for epic showdown
George Groves vs Callum Smith: Live talkSPORT commentary and start time
MEET THE PLAYERS
Who is playing for Team Europe and the USA in the Ryder Cup?
Surrey were eventually bowled out for 541 shortly before lunch, with Essex seamer Coles, a substitute for concussion victim Sam Cook, taking five for 123.
Jacks added just one run to his overnight score before falling for 53 in the third over of the day, edging a drive at Coles to Harmer at second slip.
But Patel and Clarke took Surrey past 500, adding 53 for the seventh wicket when Coles angled one across the latter from around the wicket to have him caught behind for 39.
Morkel lasted just two balls, steering a shortish ball from Coles to gully, and Patel’s near three-hour resistance was finally ended when he unluckily thin-edged an attempted leg glance to a rising ball from Coles through to substitute keeper Michael Pepper.