Championship Report: Warwickshire at Northamptonshire
Day Three: Close of play
Ryan Sidebottom took 10 wickets in the match as Warwickshire got their bid for an immediate return to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship underway with an innings-and-48-run victory over Northamptonshire on the third afternoon at Wantage Road.
Sidebottom, after a career-best 6 for 35 in the first innings, added a second-innings 4 for 61 to help bowl Northants out for 218 as Warwickshire’s dominance on the game brought a huge margin of victory. Five of their nine defeats last season came by an innings but here they were on the right side of such a result and took 22 points to Northants’ two.
The Bears were always in command of the game after firing out their hosts for just 147 on day one. They were made to work harder for 10 wickets second time around but only one partnership of note provided significant resistance – Adam Rossington and Josh Cobb added 72 for the sixth wicket between lunch and tea.
Sidebottom claimed the crucial wicket of Rossington with the second new ball. With the first delivery with it he struck Rossington on the left hand and then caught him on the crease to remove the Northants keeper lbw for 58.
Rossington and Cobb saved Northants from an even bigger defeat. They looked liked tumbling away as they slumped from 87 for 1 to 100 for 5 in the fourth over after lunch after Rob Keogh prodded forward to Sidebottom and edged to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose for 6 from 51 balls.
But Rossington advanced at Jeetan Patel to clip him wide of midwicket for four and the first runs off Patel for 35 balls. He twice hit the offspinner wide of extra-cover and lofted him over mid-off. Another aerial stroke – a swept six over midwicket off Patel – took him to fifty in 135 balls.
Cobb also played well but failed to provide the big innings his side needed. He steered Sidebottom through point for two boundaries but edged Patel between first and second slip and almost presented a bat-pad chance to short leg off the same bowler. He pulled Chris Wright through square leg for a third boundary but in the over before tea, pushed at Wright to get a feather edge behind to fall for 30.
Sidebottom cleaned up Brett Hutton for his 10th wicket of the match and it was left to 18-year-old Henry Brookes to claim the final two wickets, taking out Ben Sanderson’s middle stump to complete victory.
It looked like being harder work for Warwickshire after the first hour where Alex Wakely and Rob Newton settled the home side after the loss of Ben Duckett – caught behind driving lazily at Sidebottom. But in the second hour of the morning, Patel took two wickets in two balls.
Northants captain Wakely began with a flowing cover drive off Sidebottom and skipped down the pitch to lift Patel into the Wilson stand. But after a second six over long on, Patel came round the wicket and a quicker ball caught Wakely on the crease and he fell lbw for 25. Next ball, Richard Levi played forward and got an inside edge onto his pad that looped up to Jonathan Trott diving forward at slip.
The double strike saw Northants grind to a halt and they only scored 12 runs in the remaining 13 overs to lunch, with Newton scoring only one run from 31 balls before he tamely chipped Chris Wright to short square leg for 46. That wicket, a quarter of an hour before lunch, cleared Warwickshire’s path to victory.
Day Two: Close of play
Tim Ambrose made his 17th first-class century to give Warwickshire a chance to press for victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road with two days remaining. Ambrose made 103 as Warwickshire ground out 413 to take a first-innings lead of 266 before Northants, with 10 overs to face at the end of the day, closed 41 for 0.
Ambrose, who made 81 last week against Sussex in the season opener, took his side from a strong position to a totally dominant one as he gained the measure of a slow wicket to work the Northants attack around. He nudged, prodded, glanced and flicked his way to 96-ball fifty with just one boundary – the long, heavy outfield making boundaries a rarity – before playing more fluently to raise a century in another 58 balls with five fours and a six.
For the latter half of his innings, he had 18-year-old Henry Brookes for company playing just his second first-class match. He settled to become a sound partner for Ambrose and repelled Northants’ fightback with the second new ball to compile a record ninth-wicket partnership for Warwickshire against Northants of 116.
After Ambrose fell, caught on the deep square fence, Brookes took top billing as he worked his way towards a maiden first-class fifty. He got there with a mighty pull over midwicket off Brett Hutton and added a second to take Warwickshire past 400 as Northants wilted in 128.1 overs they were forced to send down.
The hosts had hope of a revival in the morning session where Doug Bracewell made the day’s opening breakthrough with the 18th ball of the day, straightening a full delivery to clip Will Rhodes’ off stump to end a stand of 91 for the fourth wicket.
Sam Hain was the other member of the partnership and fell 15 short of memorable return to the ground where he become Warwickshire’s youngest centurion in the County Championship four years ago. He resumed on 51 and struck two flowing cover drives on his way to 85. But Ben Sanderson hatched a plot with the wicketkeeper stood up and three catchers in front of bat and got Hain to chip a full delivery to short midwicket where Bracewell claimed a smart catch down to his right.
21-year-old Matt Lamb developed another useful stand with Ambrose of 66 for the sixth wicket before Lamb fell to the second new ball and Warwickshire slipped to 263 for 8 and the lead 116 – but Ambrose and Brookes ensured Warwickshire’s advantage was far greater.
Northants had 10 overs to survive before the close and Rob Newton was almost stumped when he was deceived by Jeetan Patel. Some pad saved him and Newton and Ben Duckett, who avoided a king pair, went to the close intact.
Day One: Close of play
Ryan Sidebottom took 6 for 35 as Warwickshire enjoyed a dominant first day at Wantage Road, bowling Northamptonshire out for just 147 before closing 113 for 3, trailing by just 34.
Sidebottom, playing in just his ninth first-class game, tore through the Northants lower order after lunch to take a maiden five-wicket haul, providing the fire-power Warwickshire thought they had lost when Olly Stone went down injured in the warm-up.
Having fired Northants out so cheaply, Warwickshire briefly wobbled to 28 for 3 with Ian Bell held at second slip for a three-ball duck and Jonathan Trott lbw for 4 before Sam Hain and Will Rhodes compiled an unbeaten stand of 81 to ensure the visitors were well on top by the close. Hain passed fifty in the final over of the day in 103 balls with his fifth four.
It was Sidebottom who set up their position. His first wicket came with his opening delivery of the season, having not played last week, as Ben Duckett drove at a full ball slid across him and edged to gully where Rhodes claimed a sharp catch above his right shoulder. After lunch, a straight full delivery took out Richard Levi’s middle stump after Levi had settled Northants getting to 41, and a sharp short ball at Adam Rossington’s throat produced a simple catch to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose off the shoulder of the bat.
Then after Josh Cobb’s brief counter-attack, Doug Bracewell slashed Sidebottom to Bell in the gully, Richard Gleeson was bowled for just 1 and and No. 11 Ben Sanderson was pinned lbw second ball to complete Sidebottom’s haul.
Northants lost 7 for 46 after lunch in a third successive batting failure after totals of 71 and 142 in the opening round at Lord’s. But unlike that fixture, where a soft green-top made batting perilous, here the toss was contested, both side wanted to bat, and Northants contributed to their own downfall with a slipshod display.
After Duckett fell driving loosely to his first delivery, Alex Wakely hooked Chris Wright to long leg and Rob Newton pulled Henry Brookes and gloved a catch to Ambrose to hand Brookes, one of three changes for Warwickshire from the side who drew with Sussex in the opening round, a first County Championship wicket.
Levi and Keogh saw Northants through to lunch with Levi producing the strokes of the morning with a sweet cover-drive off Sanderson and a slog-sweep against Jeetan Patel over long-on for six. But Keogh went to pull Patel after lunch, only for the delivery to skid under his bat into his off stump and Cobb, having hit Patel onto the balconies of the old and new pavilions, cut the off spinner to slip.
By contrast, Rhodes and Hain were careful to judge the slightly two-paced wicket and took no chances in nudging Warwickshire into three-figures shortly before the close. Hain’s cover-drive off Gleeson was the pick of the strokes and as he held the pose, it confirmed the Bears’ dominance of the day.