County Championship
County Championship Logo Mon 24 September, 10:30

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Championship Report: Warwickshire v Kent

Day Three: Close of play: Warwickshire won by an innings and 34 runs

Warwickshire secured the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title by beating Kent by an innings and 34 runs inside three days at Edgbaston.

Kent will still join the Bears in the top tier next season but had to settle for runners-up spot after failing to deliver the fightback required after they were outclassed on the opening two days.

Day three followed a similar pattern as Kent, trailing by 213 on first innings, resumed on 38 for one in the second and were bowled out for 179.

It was powerhouse performance by the home side but Kent’s implosion for 167 and 179 in the match did nothing to assuage their supporters’ concerns about their batting line-up’s ability to handle life in Division One next year.

The only regret for the jubilant Warwickshire fans was that the innings win denied Jonathan Trott one more visit to the crease before retirement. Instead, Trott received a huge ovation at the end – as one of three players who ended their Warwickshire careers today with Chris Wright and Keith Barker leaving to join Leicestershire and Hampshire respectively.

Kent began the third day in need of a massive rearguard action but were hit by a spectacular mid-morning burst of four wickets for 34 runs in 61 balls.

Nightwatchman Adam Riley fell to a brilliant, one-handed catch at second slip by Dom Sibley off Barker who then knocked out two of Joe Denly’s stumps to close the new England call-up’s season with a second-ball duck.

Olly Stone, who will be alongside Denly in the England party heading for Sri Lanka at the weekend, then found his rhythm from the Pavilion End, first inducing a nick from Heino Kuhn before leaving Ollie Robinson with just one vertical stump.

Opener Zak Crawley resisted hard for 73 (152 balls, ten fours) but was uprooted in the last over before lunch when he fell lbw to Ryan Sidebottom.

Two wickets in the first full over after lunch accelerated the collapse as Chris Wright pinned Darren Stevens lbw and had Grant Stewart caught at third slip. Sam Billings defied for 46 (75 balls, six fours) but when he fell lbw to Jeetan Patel, Warwickshire were one wicket from glory. That wicket fell immediately when Matt Henry played his first ball to mid off and Harry Podmore was run out by Stone’s throw.

Day Two: Close of play

Centuries from Dominic Sibley and Will Rhodes left Warwickshire strongly-placed against Kent in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title-showdown at Edgbaston.

Both openers struck their fourth championship centuries of the season as the home side amassed 380, securing a first innings lead of 213.

Sibley made 119 from 287 balls with 12 fours (the former Surrey player’s third century in four innings) while Rhodes scored 110 from 148 balls with 16 fours and a six.

Joe Denly (three for 48) and Harry Podmore (three for 67) did most to restrict the deficit to a point at which their side at least has a toehold in the game.

Kent then reached the close on 38 for one in a match they now need to win to take the Division Two title. Having taken more bonus points than Kent from the game, Warwickshire will finish top if the match is drawn so Kent need to bat very big second time around to give themselves  a chance of stealing the title in spectacular fashion.

Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 148 without loss and the opening stand reached 176 before Rhodes left a straight ball from Grant Stewart and was bowled.

Ian Bell’s departure, lbw to Harry Podmore, brought Jonathan Trott to the crease in his farewell game in first-class cricket. Kent’s players gave the former England player a guard of honour as he reached the middle but their hospitality ended there. After 26 minutes, in which he scored eight runs from 13 balls, he was on his way, brilliantly caught by Darren Stevens at mid-wicket off Podmore.

While Sibley’s concentration remained high after lunch, with the pitch starting to turn, Adam Riley dismissed Sam Hain and Tim Ambrose lbw and Denly trapped Keith Barker the same way. Sibley’s 383-minute stay was then ended by a slip catch by Sean Dickson off Matt Henry on the stroke of tea.

Podmore ousted Olly Stone with the fifth lbw of the innings but ninth-wicket pair Chris Wright (38, 78 balls, five fours) and Jeetan Patel (32, 47 balls three fours) added 55 in 12 overs to lift the lead over 200.

With 15 overs to bat before stumps, Kent openers Dickson and Zak Crawley negotiated 12.5 of them before the former edged Stone to Sibley at second slip. The visitors have a lot of batting to do to retain a chance of pipping their hosts for the Division Two crown.

Day One: Close of play

Warwickshire took huge strides towards the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title by totally dominating the opening day against rivals Kent at Edgbaston.

The two sides, already guaranteed promotion, went into their final game level on points so whoever takes most from this match will go up as champions.

It had all the makings of a titanic duel between the two standout teams in the division this season – but Kent endured a day to forget as they were bowled out for 167 before the home side eased to 148 without loss at the close.

Kent have earned promotion despite accumulating only 16 batting points from 13 games and again their batsmen struggled, this time against the seamers. Chris Wright took three for 29, Keith Barker three for 31 and Olly Stone three for 36 as Warwickshire became the only team in either division to take full bowing points from every championship game this season.

Bears openers Will Rhodes (102 not out, 121 balls, 16 fours, one six) and Dom Sibley (37, 101 balls, four fours) then subdued the much-vaunted Kent seam-attack to add an unbroken 148 to their previous three championship opening stands of 123, 96 and 158.

Kent chose to bat but lost a wicket to the tenth ball when Zak Crawley edged Wright to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose. Barker then removed Sean Dickson lbw and Heino Kuhn edged Stone to second slip.

Stone, fresh from his first call-up to England’s Test squad, trapped Ollie Robinson lbw with the last ball before lunch then straight after the interval another new England Test call-up Joe Denly was prised out. Having survived on nought when he left a Barker inswinger which brushed off-stump but didn’t dislodge a bail, Denly amassed a diligent (30, 82 balls, four fours) but then edged Stone to second slip when Sibley took a sharp catch.

The clatter continued as a Barker yorker trapped Sam Billings lbw and Wright dispatched Darren Stevens, lbw, and Grant Stewart, caught behind.

Barker sent Harry Podmore’s leg-stump flying but last pair Matt Henry (32 not out, 48 balls) and Adam Riley delivered some resistance. Henry twice lifting Jeetan Patel for six as the tenth wicket added 42 before Riley fell lbw to Ryan Sidebottom.

Faced with a session to bat, Warwickshire had 50 on the board in ten overs. Rhodes took the more assertive role as he posted his fourth championship century of the season, from 105 balls, reached with his 16th four.

The opening stand was punctuated by a burst of loud applause from the very good crowd for Bears legend Allan Donald, now Kent assistant coach, who walked round the boundary. The warm reception was the only thing about the day for him to enjoy.

Troughton seeking icing on promotion cake

Both sides having secured promotion with a match to spare, they now face each other in that match – and the title equation could not be tighter.

Now we have one more challenge this season and it is a tough one against a very strong Kent side. We know we have to get more points from the game than them and it’s all set up for a great game of championship cricket.

Jim Troughton

The two teams are level on points so whoever takes most from the final match will go up as champions. If they take equal points, Kent will take the title by virtue of having won more games.

It is all set for a cracking denouement to the 2018 season at Edgbaston – and, never mind the title duel, then there is the little matter of Jonathan Trott’s final match for Warwickshire.

First-team coach Jim Troughton is “very proud” of what his team has achieved already this season but would love them to send ‘Trotty’ off with one last win and trophy.

“It will be an emotional four days,” Troughton said. “Trotty has been absolutely brilliant for Warwickshire and will go down as one of the all-time great Bears and we have got one or two things lined up for him, but it would be great to send him off with a trophy.

“The guys have played a lot of really good championship cricket to secure promotion with a game to spare. They fully deserve promotion and I am very proud of them. Now we have one more challenge this season and it is a tough one against a very strong Kent side. We know we have to get more points from the game than them and it’s all set up for a great game of championship cricket.”

Warwickshire will again be without Chris Woakes, who has been made unavailable by the England and Wales Cricket Board, but Ian Bell could play despite suffering a thumb injury on the last day of the promotion-clinching draw at Sussex last week.

“Hopefully, Belly will be okay,” said Troughton. “There is no break but quite a lot of bruising so we will have to see how it settles down over the weekend.

“We are all really looking forward to the game. Winning promotion was the objective at the start of the season and to have done that with a game to spare is a real tribute to the players, to their skills and attitude and to the leadership of Jeetan Patel. Now it would be lovely to put the icing on the cake and send Trotty off with one more trophy.”

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