Ahead of Sunday’s Specsavers County Championship meeting at Edgbaston, Brian Halford looks back at our previous meetings with Durham.
When Durham piled up 556 for eight declared in their first innings at Edgbaston in 1994, Brian Lara’s contribution to Warwickshire’s cause was forgettable.
As the visitors, led by Jon Morris’s double-century, exploited excellent batting conditions on the first day and a half, the West Indian delivered 11 overs for 47 runs and no wickets. Nothing to write home about, that. Forgettable.
Then the Bears batted. And when Lara went in, at eight for one after Dominic Ostler departed early, things started to get memorable.
By the close of the second day Lara, after a sketchy start (bowled by a no ball on 12 and dropped by the wicketkeeper on 18) had accelerated to 111 out of 210 for two.
He had only just started.
The third day was washed out. The fourth, with the match consigned to a draw, brought history. Warwickshire 810 for four: Lara 501 not out from 427 balls with 62 fours and ten sixes. The left-handed genius added 314 with Trevor Penney (who scored 44!) and an unbroken 322 with Keith Piper (116 not out).
Lara’s first hundred came from 138 balls, his second from 82, his third from 58, his fourth from 72 and his fifth, reached in the final over in front of a crowd which has swollen spectacularly during the afternoon, from 77.
It was a dead match and a drawn contest – but a magnificent batting feat nevertheless. For everybody present, an ‘I was there’ occasion.
Brian Lara’s 1994 masterpiece against Durham remains the biggest ever innings by a Warwickshire player – Kumar Sangakkara’s 149 against them in 2008 is a genuine candidate for the best ever.
Nine years ago this week the Sri Lankan batsman made his debut for the Bears having just arrived from Colombo and the celebrations of his country’s World Cup campaign. From the heat of the east he landed in damp, chilly Birmingham and walked out to bat on a green Edgbaston wicket – and batted brilliantly.
Sangakkara went in at one for one which soon became one for two with Ian Westwood and Darren Maddy back in the hutch. With Graham Onions on his way to lodging eight for 101, the best first-class figures (at the time) for Durham, the Bears dipped to 23 for four with Jim Troughton and Jonathan Trott also undone by a ball swinging and seaming all over the place.
Sanga’s response was to unfurl a string of gorgeous cover-drives which sent the ball racing across the outfield up to the Hollies Stand rope. While the rest of the top order struggled desperately to locate the sphere at all, time after time Sanga sent it pinging magnificently from the very middle of the bat.
He inspired Alex Loudon to show his quality too and the pair put on 229 for the fifth wicket. Loudon struck 105 and Sangakkara a glorious 149, a truly spectacular introduction to the county game for one of the great batsmen of his generation.
Durham have often suffered, with both bat and ball, at the hands of Keith Barker. It was with superbly-directed left-arm swing that the all-rounder dismantled them at Edgbaston in 2012.
Triple-wicket maidens do not come along very often in first-class cricket but it was one of those on the first day from Barker which set the Bears on the way to a nine-wicket victory over a side which they had not previously beaten in the county championship for six years.
That spectacular over arrived in Durham’s first innings which amounted to only 163 after Barker took five for 33 and Chris Wright four for 44. The pair exploited helpful bowling conditions in which Durham’s seamers then also enjoyed some early success, reducing the Bears to 14 for four.
Ian Bell remained, though, to play a match-shaping innings – a resilient, highly-skilled 120 in technique-testing conditions. Bell’s work, supported from the middle and lower orders by Tim Ambrose (39), Darren Maddy (35) and Jeetan Patel (30 not out) lifted Warwickshire to 267, a lead of 104 – after which Barker soon got to work again.
His second-innings five for 37 (for match-figures of ten for 70), allied to three wickets from Patel, skittled Durham for 139 to leave a victory target of just 36, which the Bears knocked off with a solitary casualty – Varun Chopra who departed hit-wicket.
Durham were offered the warmest of welcomes by all at Warwickshire on their first County Championship visit to Edgbaston – and Allan Donald took the opportunity to give them his own special personal ‘A.D’ welcome.
You know, the one where you have to duck and dive rather a lot and, in four cases, have your stumps sent flying.
The match (of only three days duration back in ’92) was ultimately sentenced to a draw by rain-damage but it was the damage caused to Durham’s batting by Donald on the first day that attracted headlines as he demolished them with seven for 37 – on a good batting pitch.
He removed openers Wayne Larkins and John Glendenen for ducks, rearranging the furniture of the latter, then went on to also hit the stumps of Gary Brown, Chris Scott and Simon Brown. Ian Botham offered some resistance with 44 but Durham were dismantled for 136 by arguably the best pace trio ever to represent Warwickshire – Donald, Gladstone Small and Tim Munton who took seven, two and one wicket respectively.
Warwickshire then batted solidly – Andy Moles 51, Roger Twose 65, Andy Lloyd 60 – to build a significant lead but rain and bad light on the second day held up their push for victory. After the Bears declared at 316 for four on the final morning, they still had plenty of overs to try to bowl Durham out a second time and they reduced them to 81 for three as Donald added another wicket and Dermot Reeve took two. But Wayne Larkins dug in for 77 and Phil Bainbridge (71 not out) and Botham (28 not out) saw their side to 238 for four from 87 overs and the safety of a draw.