Report: Warwickshire v Somerset, LV= Insurance County Championship
Warwickshire clinched the LV= Insurance County Championship for only the eighth time in their history after defeating Somerset by 118 runs on a raucous ‘I was there’ afternoon for their fans at Edgbaston.
The Bears began the final day knowing that victory would secure their first title since 2012…and their plans came together perfectly.
First they added 115 runs in 62 minutes to race to 294 for three with Rob Yates scoring a brilliant 132 not out (168 balls), with enterprising support from Will Rhodes (62, 44) and Matt Lamb (27 not out, 20).
That enabled a bold declaration from Rhodes who set Somerset 273 in 79 overs and then watched with delight as his team bowled and caught superbly to rattle Somerset out for 154 on a good batting pitch.
It was the third home game this season which Warwickshire had won after tea on the final day. That is testament to their fighting spirit as well as their skill, and those attributes were needed on the final afternoon when they had to prise ten wickets from a batter-friendly surface.
Spinner Danny Briggs struck an important blow just before lunch when Tom Lammonby edged to Tim Bresnan at slip. After the interval, the visitors moved to 35 for one then lost three wickets for four runs in 39 balls.
Ben Green tickled a leg-side catch to the keeper off Bresnan before Chris Woakes added the big wicket of Azhar Ali, caught by Sam Hain at second slip. With limited time at their disposal, the Bears needed to be flawless in the field and they were. Hain made no mistake and neither did Yates at third slip when Tom Abell (nought from 21 balls) and Lewis Goldsworthy (31, 44) edged Craig Miles.
Liam Norwell removed Steven Davies with a yorker that hit middle and off before Woakes took wickets either side of tea. An unplayable delivery sent Craig Overton’s off stump flying then the England star’s first ball of the final session rearranged the furniture of Jack Leach.
Luke Gregory (31, 56 balls) nicked Miles to Michael Burgess to leave Warwickshire with 171 balls to take one wicket to seize the title.
They needed just 15 before Brooks edged Norwell to Rhodes in the cordon and the catcher joined Frank Foster, Tom Dollery, Alan Smith, Dermot Reeve, Nick Knight and Jim Troughton on the esteemed list of captains to have brought county cricket’s most prestigious prize to Edgbaston.
Warwickshire are one powerful day’s cricket away from lifting the LV=Insurance County Championship title after a strong fightback against Somerset on the third day at Edgbaston.
Lancashire’s amazing win over Hampshire at Liverpool has left the Bears with a very simple equation. Victory (but nothing less) over Somerset will bring the title to Edgbaston for the eighth time in the club’s history.
The equation is simple, but forcing victory will be a far from simple business for Will Rhodes’ side on an excellent batting pitch. They closed the third day on 179 for one – 157 ahead, so need to press on briskly with the bat tomorrow to give themselves time to try to take ten wickets on a batter-friendly surface.
If Warwickshire can pull that off against a Somerset side which, to its great credit, has scrapped every inch of the way, they will deserve to be champions.
The title-chasers spent the first two sessions of the third day in the dirt as Somerset, replying to 367, gritted onward from their overnight 239 for five to reach 389.
The visitors’ head coach Jason Kerr stated the previous evening that “whoever wins the title is going to have to earn it” and his players showed a degree of resolve which matched his words.
Steven Davies (52, 90 balls, eight fours) fell in the second over of the day when he edged Tim Bresnan to Michael Burgess. Bresnan then struck again when he trapped Craig Overton lbw, though Overton’s two-run stay had eaten up 43 minutes.
Somerset’s batting has not over-achieved of late but this time they delivered some important partnerships. After Davies and Lewis Gregory (68, 139 balls) added 60, Gregory and Jack Leach (49, 140 balls) put on 54 and Leach and Josh Davey added 56.
On an unforgiving pitch, there was little the depleted Warwickshire attack (without the injured Olly Stone, Olly Hannon-Dalby and Henry Brookes) could do but persevere. The indefatigable Bresnan was the pick, finishing with three for 35, supported by Danny Briggs (three for 77) and Chris Woakes (three for 100).
Trailing by 22, Warwickshire had a session to regain the initiative and fully seized the opportunity. Rob Yates (72 not out, 119 balls) and Dom Sibley (50, 69 balls) batted enterprisingly to add 119 in 28 overs and Will Rhodes added late impetus with 42 in 29 balls Together the trio supplied their side with a springboard to a potential victory – and championship title – tomorrow.
Warwickshire are hunting their first LV=Insurance County Championship title since 2012 after bringing the equation into their own hands against Somerset at Edgbaston.
In reply to the Bears’ 367, the visitors closed the second day on 239 for five after another compelling day much enjoyed by the excellent crowd in the Birmingham sunshine.
The morning session was a belter. After the Bears resumed on 283 for four, Craig Overton sent them into collapse with five for 88 before a thrilling cameo from Danny Briggs (53 not out, 31 balls) lifted his side to 350 and the fourth batting point they needed to take control of their destiny. If they take full bowling points and go on to win, they will be champions.
Warwickshire then faced the hard yards of taking 20 wickets on a good batting pitch. They prised out five but Somerset resisted resolutely, led by from Tom Lammonby (59, 88 balls), Azhar Ali (60, 124) and Steven Davies (48 not out, 79).
It was a fascinating day with two sessions of absorbing cricket following an extraordinary morning in which the Bears faltered, floundered, then rallied in an exuberant fashion that brought their fans to their feet.
The Bears resumed needing 67 from 14 overs to reach 350 in time to bag that crucial batting point but lost five wickets for 35 runs in 50 balls in the face of Overton’s excellence.
Michael Burgess edged the seamer’s third ball of the day to the keeper and, after Sam Hain was bowled by Jack Brooks still on his overnight 83, Overton induced catches from Chris Woakes, Tim Bresnan and Liam Norwell.
That left last pair Briggs and Craig Miles needing to find 28 from 23 balls. They reduced that to 11 from six, bowled by Brooks and, to huge cheers from the crowd, Briggs struck the next three balls for four, four and six to round off a truly amazing hour. Edgbaston has delivered some wonderful cricket in all formats this year but nothing more spectacular than that.
Then came those hard yards. Woakes knocked out Ben Green’s off stump but Lammonby and Ali added 68 before Briggs, who received his first team cap before play, took a low return catch to remove Lammonby.
Tom Abell nicked Norwell, Ali edged Bresnan to slip and Lewis Goldworthy skied Briggs to mid on but Davies batted fluently to show that Warwickshire still have plenty of work to do.
Somerset showed why the LV=Insurance County Championship is such a difficult tournament to win as they made title-chasing Warwickshire work for every run on the opening day at Edgbaston.
The visitors arrived bottom of Division One and with their title ambitions long buried but bowled wholeheartedly all day as the Bears reached 283 for four.
Will Rhodes (60, 133 balls) and Dominic Sibley (56, 165) laid a platform for a solid Warwickshire total and Sam Hain (83 not out, 198) and Matt Lamb (44, 92) built on it, but the Bears have work to do in the morning to take the initiative in the title race.
If they reach 350 in 110 overs (for which they need another 67 in 14 overs), then go on to acquire full bowling points and win, they will be champions unless Lancashire (25 for three overnight) total 400 and beat Hampshire at Aigburth. On the first hour tomorrow, could the whole title equation hinge!
After putting the Bears in, Somerset bowled well, assisted by some lateral movement and swing, so it was testing work for the batsmen. Rob Yates departed, caught at second slip off Josh Davey, in the fourth over but Sibley and Rhodes concentrated hard to take their side to 80 for one at lunch.
The captain advanced to a compact half-century in 102 balls in the afternoon session and the second-wicket pair added 121 in 41 overs before Rhodes edged Tom Lammonby to wicketkeeper Steven Davies.
Sibley played the shot of the day, a gorgeous down-the-track straight drive off Jack Leach, on the way to passing fifty for the 43rd time in first-class cricket. All day, the ball nipped around though and in the 55th over he copped a perfect outswinger from Jack Brooks which took a nick through to Davies.
That was 139 for three, with the balance of play finely poised, but Hain and Lamb ensured there was no further damage up to tea, at which Warwickshire were 161 for three from 64 overs.
As wickets tumbled at Liverpool, the rising question was how many batting points Warwickshire might need. Hain and Lamb batted watchfully at first, then began to accelerate after tea and added 121 in 41 overs before Brooks trapped Lamb in front.
Michael Burgess, who received his first team cap before play, and Hain batted with freedom to reach the close unbeaten with power to add tomorrow.
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