A great county championship match is like a classic novel – a fluctuating, slow-burning, unpredictable, character-driven plot which builds to a tense or thrilling climax.
Yorkshire’s visit to Edgbaston in 2006 was such a story.
The match introduced two new characters to the fixture as Tim Ambrose made his Warwickshire debut while Jason Gillespie made his bow for the White Rose. Both men were to be deeply involved as a gripping denouement unfolded.
The Bears made solid progress second time around, Nick Knight and Jonathan Trott scoring centuries.vs Yorkshire, 2006
In their first home game under new director of cricket Mark Greatbatch, the Bears batted first and made 316 thanks largely to 73s from Jim Troughton and Alex Loudon. They then dismissed Yorkshire for 216, captain Heath Streak taking three for 47, for a nifty first-innings lead of 100.
The Bears made solid progress second time around, Nick Knight and Jonathan Trott scoring centuries, at which point the decision facing Streak was when to declare. He certainly didn’t hurry, allowing the innings to reach 399 for five before setting Yorkshire a target of 500.
The visitors needed to pull off the highest run-chase in championship history – and they gave it a real good go. They passed 300 with only four men out as Darren Lehmann unfurled a classy century, supported by Ashley McGrath (84) and Michael Lumb (71).
Lumb became Ambrose’s first stumping victim for Warwickshire, off Troughton, but when Lehmann reached 150 with 104 needed for victory and two wickets still to fall, that historic win remained a possibility.
Then the Aussie, still on 150, was caught by Ambrose off Neil Carter. It seemed the Bears were through with 20 overs in which to separate last pair Gillespie and John Blain – but the Yorkshire tail-enders dug deep. They added 37 before the last over began, that miraculous win now beyond reach but a heroic draw within touching distance.
That plot had one last twist. With three balls remaining, in thundered Streak and Blain was trapped right in front. Lbw. Bears win by 66 runs. The captain had left his side enough time – just!
When, in the first match of the 1896 season at Edgbaston, Yorkshire reached 211 for four, Warwickshire were reasonably content with the way things were going.
Having chosen to bat, as was customary in Victorian times, the visitors had made uneven progress against an attack led by the redoubtable Harry “Knack” Pallett. Would Yorkshire even get to 300?
Well, yes they would. At the close of the first day, they were 527 for seven.
Some onlookers were surprised that Yorkshire captain Lord Hawke had not declared to get Warwickshire in for a few overs before the close. But His Lordship had other plans.
Hawke’s decision to bat on into the second day might have had a bit to do with him being not out at the end of the first.vs Yorkshire, 1896
Into the second day the innings went. And on it went. And on and on and on…
In fact that declaration never arrived, the innings only concluding in the last over of the second day when Yorkshire were all out. For 887.
Hawke’s decision to bat on into the second day might have had a bit to do with him being not out at the end of the first. He was on three and Bobby Peel had 37. Stanley Jackson (117) and Ted Wainwright (126) had already passed three figures. Now the overnight batsmen plodded in that direction.
Peel and Hawke added 292 for the eighth wicket before the latter fell for 166. Even then, at 740 for eight, Hawke did not call them in. George Hirst went in to clobber 85 in a ninth-wicket stand of 136 with Peel, who was unbeaten on 210 when the end finally came.
Pallett ended two days of toil with 75.3-14-184-4 while Sydney Santall delivered 65-9-223-2 and William Ward 62-11-175-2. Ten of the Bears’ 11 had a bowl, even wicketkeeper Dick Lilley taking off his gloves to have a go, and it was to their collective credit that the innings’ 274.3 overs (all bowled with the same battered old sphere!) contained not a single no-ball.
Predictably, His Lordship’s strange strategy did not bring victory. On the final day, Warwickshire were bowled out for 203 but, following on, had only 14 overs to survive to earn a draw.
The final points tally from the match: Warwickshire 0 Yorkshire 0. Funny old game.
Jeetan Patel has become a linchpin of Warwickshire’s bowling attack but on his Bears debut against Yorkshire early in the 2009 season it was as a batsman that he delivered.
And how his team needed it.
When the Kiwi first strode to the crease for the county the total was 241 for eight in reply to 600. The question was: Could the new arrival stay there with Jonathan Trott long enough for the follow on to be avoided?
The answer: an emphatic yes as Patel’s stylish counter-attack brought him his maiden ton.
Batting with a freedom and positivity which was to supply so many lower-order runs for Warwickshire.vs Yorkshire, 2009
His first bowl for the Bears had been less fruitful as he harvested a bracing 36-1-150-1 as Yorkshire took advantage of a flat track after winning the toss. Anthony McGrath’s 211 and a marathon 173 (nine hours and two minutes) from Joe Sayers underpinned a hefty total against at attack in which Neil Carter, with four for 129, enjoyed most success.
When the Bears then declined to 138 for six, Trott badly needed support. He received it briefly from Carter (32) and Chris Woakes (30) but Patel went in with 199 still needed to avoid the follow on.
Batting with a freedom and positivity which was to supply so many lower-order runs for Warwickshire, he helped Trott add 233 in 48 overs. Patel’s 120 from 155 balls, with two sixes and 18 fours, the first of many match-turning contributions the New Zealander was to lodge on the Bears’ behalf.
Players of West Indian origin have left major imprints on Warwickshire’s history – and long before Brian Lara or even Alvin Kallicharran, there was Rudi Webster. And it was against Yorkshire at Edgbaston in 1964 that the Barbadian seamer put in one of the performances of his career, harvesting match figures of 39.4-18-58-12.
That haul included a first-innings analysis of 12.4-7-6-7 after the White Rose wilted all out for just 54. On a wicket offering some help to bowlers, the Bears had eked out 210 with Ray Hitchcock, Alan Smith and Ronnie Miller each contributing 32. Webster then got busy in alliance with Tom Cartwright (17-11-16-3) as the visitors’ middle-order – Brian Close, Chris Balderstone, Ray Illingworth and Barry Wood – all fell for ducks.
Webster would go on to end his first-class career with 272 wickets at the impressive average of 19.44.vs Yorkshire, 1964
All out for 54 in 47.4 overs, Yorkshire followed on and fared a little better. Webster was among the wickets again with five for 52 but Illingworth’s dogged unbeaten 85 ensured the Bears an awkward victory target of 131.
At 66 for six, they were far from comfortable but Mike Smith joined forces with Alan Smith to add an unbroken 68 to see them home.
Webster would go on to end his first-class career with 272 wickets at the impressive average of 19.44 and later become a renowned sports psychologist, working with the likes of Lara, Viv Richards and Greg Chappell.