Report: Warwickshire v Hampshire, County Championship
Liam Norwell powered Warwickshire to an incredible escape from relegation in the LV= Insurance County Championship as his career-best nine for 62 sealed a five-run win over Hampshire on a thrilling final day of the season.
Set a target of 139 to secure runners up spot (and condemn the 2021 champions to the drop), Hampshire were blown away for 133 as Norwell, returning at the end of an injury-ravaged season, bowled magnificently in several spells from the Pavilion End.
His excellence lifted Warwickshire above the relegation trapdoor in the final moments of the season and dumped Yorkshire into Division Two instead.
After resuming in the morning on 62 for two, the Bears appeared to have relinquished their survival hopes when they collapsed to 177 all out. Dom Sibley, in his last game for the Bears before rejoining Surrey, made 77 (101 balls) but James Fuller (four for 34) and Brad Wheal (three for 68) exploited the desperate quest for quick runs.
Hampshire needed 139 in 72 overs but slumped to 91 for seven and, despite Nick Gubbins’s steadfast 46 (104 balls), they fell just short to suffer an agonising defeat and slip to third place in the table.
For the victors, joy. For the defeated, angst. And for the countless spectators monitoring from around the world, brilliant entertainment which again underlined the ability of both red ball cricket and county cricket to deliver a memorable entertainment.
With all the pressure on the home side, Hampshire set defensive fields in the morning and bowled well to them. Wheal was first to benefit as Alex Davies (32, 47 balls) and Will Rhodes sent up catches. Fuller then capitalised when Dan Mousley and Jake Bethell perished on the ultra-offensive.
Sam Hain’s runner was then run out by James Vince’s direct hit. Danny Briggs clouted his first ball for six but found deep mid-wicket with another attempt, Fuller yorked Norwell and Sibley was last to go, lbw to Ian Holland, before walking off to a fond valedictory ovation.
Hannon-Dalby then struck first with a beauty which took Felix Organ’s edge…Norwell did the rest. He bowled Holland, offering no shot, trapped Joe Weatherley lbw and had Vince caught at long leg. At 49 for four, it was very much game on.
Norwell returned just before tea to pin Ben Brown lbw and completed his five-for when Nye Donald chipped to extra cover. He then castled Keith Barker but Gubbins and Fuller added 33 to take their side to the brink of victory.
The admirable Norwell had the last say though. He trapped Gubbins lbw, ripped out Fuller’s middle stump and, to enormous cheers from the crowd, won an lbw decision against Mohammed Abbas to complete a true ‘I was there’ day for Warwickshire’s supporters. Yorkshire’s fans are unlikely to forget it in a hurry either.
A titanic tussle is close to reaching its conclusion as Warwickshire and Hampshire have plenty to scrap for heading into the final days of the LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Edgbaston.
James Vince and Keith Barker combined to strengthen Hampshire’s hold on second place, whilst the Bears will need to work quickly in the first session to ensure their status in the top division.
Replying to the home side’s 272 for four declared, Hampshire made 311 thanks to Vince (98, 150 balls) and former Edgbaston favourite Barker (76, 111).
Warwickshire closed on 62 for two second time round – 23 ahead – but, after rain took out much of the first two days, a draw is overwhelmingly likely. That would secure runners up spot for Vince’s side and send the Bears down.
Warwickshire need to find something spectacular on the final day if they are not to follow the glory of the title with the embarrassment of relegation. Yorkshire’s defeat to Gloucestershire at Headingley has left them a glimmer of hope but the Bears must win this match.
Only some very quick runs in the morning, followed by ten rapid wickets on a good batting pitch, will keep them out of Division Two. It would be one of the greatest of escapes.
Having declared early to move the game forward after much weather damage, Warwickshire needed a big morning with the ball when Hampshire resumed on four without loss. They didn’t help themselves when Ian Holland was dropped at slip by Dom Sibley before scoring. Holland’s opening partner Felix Organ was also missed before he had scored the previous evening.
Norwell broke through when Organ edged again and this time Sibley clung on and Warwickshire gave their supporters hope by reducing Hampshire to 92 for five. Holland inside-edged Will Rhodes to wicketkeeper Alex Davies, Joe Weatherley edged Henry Brookes and Nick Gubbins played on to Norwell. When Ben Brown edged Norwell to gully, with Yorkshire wobbling in Leeds, the Bears fans were daring to dream.
The dream dissipated in the light of partnerships of 75 in 11 overs between Vince and Nye Donald (36, 31 balls) and 63 in 24 between Vince and Barker before the captain edged Danny Briggs two runs short of his 28th first class century.
Warwickshire’s season-long struggle to polish off the lower order then persisted as Barker and James Fuller added 71 in 16 overs. Barker spent 149 minutes screwing down the lid on his old team’s relegation coffin before sending up a catch off Brookes.
In 16 overs before the close, the home side had no option but to attack and lost Rob Yates and Henry Brookes in the process, but further attack in the morning is their only escape route.
Rob Yates completed his seventh first-class century but Warwickshire and Hampshire were again kept largely inactive on the second day of their crucial LV= Insurance County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.
It was a deeply frustrating day for Warwickshire, who must win to have any chance of avoiding relegation, and equally so for the spectators. They saw a dearth of cricket in the day, just 32.1 overs, while both lunch and tea intervals were taken in dry weather and then the last session was ended prematurely for bad light.
Warwickshire declared on 272 for four, Yates having made 104 (185 balls) and Ian Holland taking three for 85, before the visitors replied with four without loss in 19 balls before the close.
With Yorkshire in jeopardy on a turning track at Bristol, the escape hatch is still ajar for the champions. They have enough bonus points to overhaul the White Rose (if the White Rose lose) but the Bears still need to win this match.
Taking 20 wickets with an injured-ravaged bowling attack on a good batting pitch with likely further interference from the weather is unlikely. Their hopes of a status-salvaging victory may lie in collusion as Hampshire need five points to be sure of fending off Lancashire’s challenge for runners-up spot.
After the loss of 55 overs on the first day, Warwickshire resumed on 138 for two but rain and bad light soon made a nuisance of themselves. The first three fragments of cricket brought 66, 37 and 16 balls respectively.
Yates, 77 not out overnight, advanced to his century from 179 balls with 19 fours and added 85 in 23 overs with Sam Hain before both fell in four balls. Yates was bowled by Holland’s first ball after an interruption and Hain (44) edged a fine delivery from Fuller to wicketkeeper Aneurin Donald.
Hampshire’s seamers got a few past the bat but the pitch is good for batting and Will Rhodes (28) and Dan Mousley (27) added an unbroken 58 in 51 balls before yet another interruption.
That triggered the declaration as Warwickshire sought to move the game on. Hampshire avoided damage in the awkward little session though Felix Organ should have gone in the first over when he edged Olly Hannon-Dalby but Hain grassed the chance at second slip.
Then the players were taken off for bad light and, though the sun came out immediately, there was no getting them back out. Sometimes, county cricket shouldn’t be allowed out.
Warwickshire retained their sliver of hope of avoiding relegation from LV= Insurance County Championship Division One with a solid start with the bat on the opening day against Hampshire at Edgbaston.
First team coach Mark Robinson admitted before the match that Warwickshire need “a lot to go our way” for them to stay up. First and foremost they have to win with plentiful batting points and they laid a decent platform by reaching 138 for two on a day stripped of 55 overs by rain and bad light.
The visitors chose to bowl but enjoyed no early success, despite some help from the pitch. Their bowling was not bad, and a shade unlucky at times, but perhaps lacked a bit of sparkle, an understandable legacy of the shock implosion of their title challenge against Kent last week.
After the first session was lost to the weather, openers Rob Yates (77 not out, 129 balls) and Dom Sibley (54, 109) added 129 in 38 overs against a Hampshire attack missing spearhead Kyle Abbot (58 championship wickets at 19.68 this season) due to a knee injury.
There was no joy for Keith Barker against the team for whom he took 359 first class wickets and which he helped to the 2012 County Championship title. Yates was particularly fluent from the off and reached 50 from 90 balls with his tenth four, flicked through mid-wicket off Barker.
The scoring rate remained reasonably brisk, as was required with Warwickshire needing every possible batting point. Sibley, on his farewell appearance at Edgbaston before rejoining Surrey, followed to his half-century from 105 balls and the pair posted Warwickshire’s first century opening stand since the first game of the season.
The breakthrough finally arrived when Sibley tickled a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Aneurin Donald off Ian Holland. Holland immediately struck again when Alex Davies offered no shot to a ball which struck off stump but Sam Hain met the hat-trick ball with the middle of a forward defensive bat and bad light soon closed back in to lop off the last 14 overs.
Warwickshire are without India all-rounder Jayant Yadav, who has returned home after being called up for the Rest of India squad, but have welcomed back fast bowler Liam Norwell after injury.
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