An extraordinary climax to Essex's Specsavers County Championship season saw them deny the newly-crowned 2018 division one champions what they themselves had achieved last year.

Amid amazing scenes at the Kia Oval, Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate’s superb 53 not out from 62 balls earned his team a nerve-shredding one-wicket win as champions Surrey just failed to prevent the 2017 winners from chasing down a target of 132.

Morne Morkel’s four for 28 spearheaded Surrey’s brilliant performance in the field as they strained every sinew to prevent Essex from spoiling their unbeaten record in four-day cricket this summer - something Essex had done in winning the title last year - on a pulsating final afternoon of the 2018 season.

Jade Dernbach and Amar Virdi also played their part, sharing the other four wickets, and a wonderful finish included a crazy run out of Matt Coles when, for some unknown reason, ten Doeschate called his partner for a third run when Coles, correctly, shouted ‘no’ as it would have left him with three balls of a Morkel over to survive.

Ten Doeschate, who hit six fours, 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 Stoneman, threw to keeper Ben Foakes with Coles stranded.

Suddenly, 122 for eight had become 124 for nine and the skipper was left with just number 11 Matt Quinn for company as he tried to get his side over the line.

A crucial leg bye meant Ten Doeschate kept the strike for Morkel’s 12th over, though, 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.

That left Quinn needing to negotiate the last three balls of Morkel’s over and, immediately, he needed attention when an 88mph bouncer thudded into the grille of his helmet.

Quinn bravely played down the next ball and, to the final ball of the over, saw Ryan Patel dive forward from silly point and narrowly fail to take a catch off the batsman’s glove as he fended off another vicious lifter.

It proved to be Surrey’s last chance to bring off a cricketing miracle, with Ten Doeschate turning Dernbach for the winning boundary in the next over, taking Essex to 134 for nine.

Ten Doeschate said: "It was a brilliant game, with a great finish, and the standard of cricket in the championship - especially in division one - is really high and getting stronger.

"To beat the champions is a great way to end our season and even with seven wins we have only finished in third place."

“What a show for county cricket,” added Surrey captain Rory Burns.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere out there, and that’s the fight we have shown all season.

"That’s a show of our character, to come back in this match and almost get the win even after being bowled out for 67 in our first innings.”

Surrey had earlier been bowled out for 541 in their second innings, with Coles taking five for 123, including a final spell of three for seven in five overs, to set Essex a target of 132 to chase down in two sessions in what proved to be a thrilling climax to the season.