SURREY’S surge towards the Specsavers County Championship title continued apace against Essex where they beat the team they are about to depose by ten wickets inside three days at Chelmsford.

It was Surrey’s eighth Championship win in a row – the first time they have done so since 1999, when they also claimed the title – and they now hold a 43-point advantage over Somerset, with three games to play.

Barring an unforeseen disaster, they look certain to secure their first Championship in 16 years at Worcester next week.

Rikki Clarke made a significant all-round contribution in Surrey’s tenth success of the season.

After a swashbuckling 56 with the bat, he followed his four-wicket haul in the first innings with four more in the second for match figures of eight for 75.

It took him to 41 in the Championship this summer.

Ravi Bopara clattered Tom Curran through cow corner, past Dean Elgar’s despairing dive, for the boundary that took Essex past the 225 required to make Surrey bat for a second time.

One run later, Sam Cook was bowled by Amar Virdi to set Surrey two to win.

Bopara’s unbeaten 81 from 122 balls delayed the inevitable until shortly after 4pm, when Rory Burns flicked Simon Harmer’s fourth ball through midwicket for two runs.

Bopara put on 53 with Michael Pepper for the sixth wicket – Essex’s highest stand of the match – and 51 with Jamie Porter in a spirited ninth-wicket partnership.

The mission improbable got off to a poor start.

Varun Chopra’s disappointing season continued when he went lbw to Curran in the third over of the day.

Chopra trudged off slowly for his sixth Championship score in single-figures, and second in the match.

Tom Westley scratched around for seven from 24 balls before he played an indeterminate shot to Curran and his off-stump went cartwheeling.

Dan Lawrence collected a pair of threes after he steered Clarke to Rory Burns at third slip.

Browne had faced 89 balls in compiling a typically-obdurate 21 when he edged Clarke to third slip where he was snapped up by Ryan Patel, who took over in the Surrey XI after Ollie Pope joined up with England.

Browne hit three fours, including a punishing pull off Clarke.

Ryan ten Doeschate was the fifth to depart after a 26-run stand with Bopara. Burns took his second catch of the morning, swooping low to his left to grab at gully.

Bopara and Pepper settled into a rearguard action in a stand that had put on 50 in 12 overs either side of lunch.

But the partnership had added just three more when Pepper popped one up to Mark Stoneman at short midwicket to give Clarke a third wicket.

He had batted 48 balls for 21.

Simon Harmer followed for a four-ball pair when Morne Morkel got some extra bounce and the nick flew through to Dean Elgar in the slips.

Bopara posted eight fours in a 76-ball 50, including a textbook straight drive off Morkel.

Peter Siddle became Clarke’s fourth wicket when he gave Stoneman a second catch before Porter followed his 12 in the first innings with a season’s best 31 from 36 balls, with five fours, that eclipsed Bopara in their nine-over stand. Porter’s fireworks were ended when Will Jacks took the catch at short-leg off Morkel.