GARETH Batty paid tribute to Surrey as they maintained the pace at the top of the LV County Championship.

Victory by an innings and five runs over Northamptonshire mean they have won all three home games at the Kia Oval this season – augmented by two high-scoring draws on the road – to lead Division One by eight points. They head to Beckenham for a clash with bottom side Kent over four days from today.

Skipper Rory Burns found the ideal moment to discover his hitherto elusive form in making 107, which proved the backbone of Surrey’s 401 all out after being sent in. Then his attack took charge to dismiss the visitors twice, for 194 and 202, to complete the match with a day to spare.

“We have been very good all round in this game,” beamed interim head coach Batty, “starting with totalling 401 after being put in on the first morning.

“The captain led from the front, as he always does.”

And he added: “It’s a very long season but we have started very well and we’ve also managed to give rests to a couple of our quicker bowlers, to try to keep them fresh. We’ve dealt well with other players getting injuries or not being available.

“I’m very pleased with where we are after five rounds.”

With Ollie Pope reporting sick and Jamie Smith – fresh from making a double-century against Gloucestershire at Bristol – suffering a hamstring strain, the pressure on Burns was all the greater. Short of runs after losing his England place, the left-hander needed luck to survive in tricky conditions with the pitch offering consistent help throughout the match.

But his touch gradually returned and alongside the fluent Sam Curran (73) conjured a vital fifth-wicket partnership worth 95 which put Surrey into the ascendant. Burns moved on to 107, the 22nd first-class century of his career, but it was a rumbustious alliance on the second day which ensured Northants were under intense pressure.

Gus Atkinson, having entered as nightwatchman, was joined by Jamie Overton (59) as the pair added 124 in 22 overs – a new record for the ninth wicket between the teams – with Atkinson’s maiden first-class half-century maturing to 66no.

Having failed to take advantage of the pitch, Northamptonshire’s seamers were given a lesson by an attack in which Kiwi medium-pacer Colin de Grandhomme claimed 4-39 after early inroads had been made by Surrey’s new ball attack. Jordan Clark is proving a revelation this season while paceman Dan Worrall’s home debut was highly impressive, barely wasting a delivery.

Luke Procter, the most impressive of Northants’ bowlers, gained little support in his unbeaten 83 and when his side followed on, early on the third day, fellow left-hander Emilio Gay’s 51 came despite being hit painfully on both elbows.

Matthew Kelly (33) and Simon Kerrigan (25) delayed the inevitable in a ninth-wicket stand worth 50 but three wickets each for Worrall and Atkinson were no more than they deserved to give Surrey their first Championship win over Northants since 2011.