Keith Barker has revealed how determined Warwickshire were to win their race against time and record their first Specsavers County Championship victory of the season, over Nottinghamshire.
After four rain-affected draws, the Bears went into the last day at Trent Bridge strongly-placed with the home side on 21 for three chasing an awkward target of 227.
Rain, that bane of the season so far, then prevented play before lunch. But when cricket resumed Barker and his team-mates powered on to a 53-run victory, bowling Nottinghamshire out for 173 despite Samit Patel’s spectacular century.
The Bears were “on a mission,” revealed Barker, who continued his excellent start to the season with a first-innings century and six wickets in the match.
“It was a great game which really swung back and forth,” the all-rounder said. “But we were on a mission on that last afternoon. It would have been really frustrating to be denied by the weather like we were at Hampshire where we would definitely have won, so we were determined to win it.
“Losing the first session on the last day cost us some time but also put a bit of pressure on them to score more quickly if they were going to win. Samit batted unbelievably well, but we kept at them and kept getting his partners out. We knew it was a difficult target for them because the pitch got harder to bat on every day. And the three wickets we had taken the previous evening were crucial.”
The pulsating victory left Warwickshire top of the Division One table as they prepare for a mouth-watering clash with Durham, who beat Lancashire in the last round of matches, at Edgbaston starting on Sunday.
Barker will be striving to main his own excellent start to the Specsavers County Championship campaign – 239 runs at an average of 47.80 and 25 wickets at 20.40 apiece – which has left him the top-rated player in the country, according to the PCA Most Valuable Player Rankings.
That form inevitably raises the question (again) of whether the 29-year-old should get his chance for England in Test cricket.
But neither his ranking, nor the question of a Test call, are subjects which occupy Barker – his response to being told he was top of the rankings: “Am I?”.
The left-armer just wants to continue the progress he has made since making the bold decision, in 2008, to return to professional cricket from football.
“I wouldn’t have a clue about rankings,” he said. “People sometimes ask me about stuff like that but it’s not what I think about. All I try to do is get my head around what I do for Warwickshire and take wickets and score runs for them. That’s my job.
“People talk about England but my attitude is, and will remain, the same as it’s always been. If it happens, it happens. All I can do is my very best for Warwickshire.
“I look back eight years, when I came back into cricket from football and didn’t know whether it was going to work out at all, and then look where I am now and am pretty happy with how it’s gone. I have worked hard to try to make a go of it, my family are proud of me and I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a really good, successful team.
“Hopefully that team has got a lot more success in it and all I am thinking about is doing my absolute best to help make that happen.”