Report: Worcestershire v Warwickshire, LV= Insurance County Championship
Warwickshire are celebrating clinching a place in Division One of the LV=Insurance County Championship – and the chance to fight for the outright title – after securing the draw they needed from the final Group 1 encounter with Worcestershire at New Road.
Half centuries from Rob Yates and first innings century-maker, Pieter Malan, enabled the Bears to comfortably overturn a first innings deficit of 52 and reach 215-2 before the two sides shook hands at ten to five.
Only 21 wickets fell in four days on the flattest of pitches and Worcestershire’s hope that the wicket would turn – they played three spinners in ish Sodhi, Josh Baker and Brett D’Oliveira – proved to be unfounded.
Warwickshire have enjoyed a dramatic turnaround in fortunes under new Head Coach Mark Robinson after his appointment by Director Of Cricket, Paul Farbrace, during the winter.
They failed to register a single victory in the shortened 2020 competition, the Bob Willis Trophy, in addition to being eliminated from the Vitality Blast in the group stages.
But Robinson, who led Sussex to two Championship titles and England Women to World Cup glory, has quickly made an impact at Edgbaston as Jim Troughton’s replacement.
Warwickshire have proved difficult to beat, losing just once – to Durham – and produced two key last day run chases against Nottinghamshire and Essex which yielded crucial victories.
Yates scored three centuries, and at 21 looks an exciting prospect, while captain Will Rhodes weighed in with 450 runs and 21 wickets.
Spinner and new signing Danny Briggs has made valuable contributions with bat and ball to compliment a pace attack in which Liam Norwell, Craig Miles and Oliver Hannon-Dalby have all played a key role.
In contrast, Worcestershire will have to contend with a place in Division Three after drawing their opening five games and winning only one.
They have enjoyed considerable success in white ball cricket in recent years but the longer format has proved challenging and they are a side in transition in that area of the game.
One of their most prized assets in Ed Barnard duly added the two runs he needed to complete his second century of the season after being promoted to number six for this game.
He went onto make an unbeaten 112 and added 101 for the ninth wicket with Adam Finch (31) before the latter was caught behind off Liam Norwell.
Worcestershire declared with a lead of 52 on a still flat wicket and any hopes of a home victory soon evaporated.
The deficit had been wiped out when Sibley (41) was caught down the leg side off Adam Finch.
Yates and Malan firmly shut the door on any hopes of further breakthroughs with a century stand off 168 balls.
The pair reached half centuries off 115 and 73 balls respectively.
Yates moved onto 88 from 173 balls before he tried to slog sweep Baker and was caught by keeper Ben Cox at mid wicket to leave Malan unbeaten on 77 from 110 deliveries.
A big-hearted effort from the bowlers has left Warwickshire well placed against neighbours Worcestershire to secure the draw that would secure them a top-two finish in the LV=Insurance County Championship Group A.
After three days of New Road, the teams are pretty much level pegging after the home side replied to theBears’ total of 395 with 415 for eight.
The third day brought a solid batting effort from the home side but their runs came slowly for much of the day against a wholehearted and disciplined Bears attack.
With only 18 wickets having fallen in three days, a draw looks likely, in which case Will Rhodes’s side coan look forward to competing in the top tier when the championship season resumes late in the season.
They still have work to do, though, on a wicket offering some turn and against an attack with three spinners including New Zealand international Ish Sodhi.
After Worcestershire resumed on 152 for two, they were made to work hard for runs throughout the morning session. Tight spells from Ryan Sidebottom and Liam Norwell set the tone for a disciplined session of bowling which brought two wickets.
Jack Haynes (65, 161 balls) was bamboozled by the wily leg-spin of Matt Lamb and leading-edged to Craig Miles at cover. Daryl Mitchell (113, 280 balls), having scored his second championship century in 12 matches against the Bears, was trapped lbw by Norwell.
The heavily depleted bowling attack stuck to its task well on a good batting track. Will Rhodes led from the front and took the next two wickets when Brett D’Oliveira edged a good one behind and Ben Cox sent up a return catch.
Joe Leach moved dangerously to 34 (53 balls) but then fell to a superb leg-side catch by Burgess off Rob Yates. Sodhi eked 13 from 45 minutes then pulled Lamb to Jake Lintott at deep square leg.
That was 324 for eight but with only the tail for company, Ed Barnard, having made 50 in exactly three hours, became more aggressive and he found resolute support from 21-year-old Adam Finch. Barnard reached his second first-class century in the closing overs as the ninth-wicket pair added an unbroken 91 up to the close to take their side in front and ensure the Bears have work still to do to nail that two-two place.
Warwickshire took a strong stride towards a top-two finish in the LV=Insurance County Championship Group A after compiling a hefty 395 in their first innings against Worcestershire at New Road.
After the Bears resumed on the second morning 245 for four, Will Rhodes (60, 103 balls, six fours and a six) and Matt Lamb (44 from 88 balls, eight fours) batted assertively to secure their side four batting points.
Against a severely-depleted Bears bowling attack, Worcestershire then replied with 152 for two, with Daryl Mitchell making an unbeaten 83 (187 balls, eight fours). At the halfway point the match is finely poised and an intriguing contest beckons over the next two days with the pitch offering some turn.
Rhodes and Lamb showed positive intent from the start of play as the Bears resumed in search of potentially crucial bonus points. The fifth-wicket pair added 93 in 26 overs before the captain, having supplied his team with exactly the impetus they needed, sought six over mid-wicket off Josh Baker and was caught on the rope.
That was the first of a clatter of three wickets to fall in 17 balls as the Bears sought quick runs. Michael Burgess and Matt Lamb both attacked Ish Sodhi and fell, bowled and lbw respectively, to deliveries that turned.
Aggressive cameos from Craig Miles (16), Jake Lintott (15) and Liam Norwell (17 not out) saw the Bears past 350 but all three fell to New Zealand leg-spinner Sodhi who ended with six for 89 on his first class debut for the Pears.
Worcestershire advanced to 68 without loss by tea but the Bears broke through with the second ball after the interval when Liam Norwell trapped Jake Libby lbw.
Twenty balls later, Rob Yates turned one inside Tom Fell’s defence to win another lbw decision. Jack Haynes set down roots alongside Mitchell, though, to add an unbroken 79 in 35 overs up to the close against an accurate attack led by Norwell (one for 22), Yates (one for 24) and Ryan Sidebottom (10-1-17-0).
Pieter Malan struck his maiden century for Warwickshire on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship derby with Worcestershire at New Road.
The South African and England opener Dominic Sibley laid the foundations for the Bears to post a substantial total in the battle to finish in the Group 1 top two with a second wicket stand of 220.
Malan was rarely troubled in completing a 151 ball hundred – his 35th in first class cricket – after Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes had opted to bat on a used pitch.
Worcestershire fought back with three wickets in quick succession, including Malan (141) and Sibley (80), and there was time for 17-year-old debutant spinner Josh Baker to claim a first wicket before an early close at 245-4 from 77.2 overs.
Jake Lintott made his first class debut for the Bears whilst Worcestershire handed a Championship debut to Ish Sodhi.
Worcestershire captain Joe Leach dismissed Rob Yates lbw in the first over without a run on the board.
Malan lofted Leach for six over mid-wicket and showed his liking for the square cut when twice collecting boundaries in an over from Leach and then Ed Barnard.
Malan brought up his half century off 73 balls with a cover drive off Sodhi for his seventh four. He looked composed throughout and a cut for four off Finch took him to 99 before he reached three figures with a single off his next ball.
The Worcestershire attack continued to probe away on a wicket of good pace and were rewarded with two wickets in two overs at the start of the post tea session.
Malan on 141 went to pull a delivery from Sodhi but the ball ballooned up to Mitchell who took a comfortable catch at slip.
Finch removed Sibley, 80, who edged through to keeper Ben Cox.
Shortly after Sam Hain (11) fell to an arm ball from Baker and was lbw immediately before rain halted proceedings.