A trouncing of historic proportions has damaged Surrey’s hopes of claiming a hat-trick of Vitality County Championship titles.

Hampshire beat them by an innings and 278 runs at the Utilita Bowl to inflict a first loss of the season on Rory Burns’s men, who had won four games on the trot before heading to the south coast.

It was the heaviest innings reverse Surrey have suffered in the County Championship, beating the innings and 217 thrashing imposed by Yorkshire at Huddersfield in 1881 and – since the competition was formalised in 1890 – the innings and 211 meltdown against Leicestershire at The Oval in 1998.

Burns won the toss but it was about the only thing which went right for the visitors, the captain’s 33 easily top score as his side were skittled for 127. Left-arm spinner Liam Dawson (three for 21) made the early inroads, capitalised upon by seamers Kyle Abbott (five for 25) and Michael Neser (two for 39).

The Utilita Bowl’s low and slow pitches are in sharp contrast to the bouncing and seaming surfaces on which Surrey have prospered in recent times, opener Toby Albert grafting his way to a maiden century – his 114 came in 305 minutes – while left-hander Nick Gubbins (103), wicketkeeper Ben Brown (165 not out) and Dawson’s 81 piled on the agony for an attack which proved toothless as the hosts ran up a mammoth 608 for six declared. The visitors were not helped either by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes having suffered a back spasm while batting, with Jamie Smith taking over the gloves.

Facing such a massive deficit, Surrey did little better second time round, Dan Lawrence’s 42 the best of the early batters and only last man Dan Worrall’s typically ebullient 48 reduced the margin slightly before they were dismissed for 203. This time Dawson’s four for 45 was augmented by off-spinner Felix Organ claiming five for 104 from 31 overs.

It was a sharp contrast to the innings and 11 run victory Surrey had enjoyed over Hampshire at the Kia Oval in April and saw what had been an 18-point lead at the top of Division One reduced to just two, with second-placed Somerset crashing to Durham but Essex taking advantage by crushing Kent.

Surrey’s head coach Gareth Batty refused to be downcast about the result. He said: “It isn’t all doom and gloom for our Championship campaign. We have really been quite excellent in six games but unfortunately this one went really badly.

“I hope this is a one-off – I would be very disappointed if it isn’t.

“I have huge belief in the whole group of players – I wouldn’t change our squad for anything but we have to understand that we weren’t as good as we can be in this game and we need to be better next time out.”

Surrey now take a break from the Championship – until Sunday, June 23, when they head to Worcestershire – with the Vitality Blast T20 holding sway. Thursday night’s opener – ironically back at the Utilita Bowl against Hampshire – is followed by playing Glamorgan at Cardiff 24 hours later before entertaining holders Somerset at The Oval on Sunday afternoon.

Surrey then entertain Sussex Sharks on Friday, June 7, host Gloucestershire on Friday, June 14, and travel to Sussex Sharks on Saturday, June 15.

By Richard Spiller