Will Rhodes has saluted a "special effort" from his Warwickshire team which saw them beat champions Essex by seven wickets in a wonderful LV=Insurance County Championship match at Edgbaston.
The Bears sprang 12 points clear at the top of Group A after chasing down 256 on the final day against the best bowling side in county cricket.
It was a difficult target against an attack led by Simon Harmer, the most effective bowler in the county game now that Bears legend Jeetan Patel has retired. But Warwickshire paced it perfectly thanks to Rob Yates’s superb unbeaten 120, supported by Hanuma Vihari (52) and Sam Hain (60).
For the second successive game, the Bears executed an excellent, fourth-day run-chase, leaving Rhodes a very proud man.
“When you play against the best team in the country, you wonder what you can get out of the game,” the skipper said.
“You plan to win the game, of course, and want to win it, but do you expect to win the game? Maybe not. But when you perform like we did over four days, you deserve to win the game.Will Rhodes
“Chasing down over 250 on the last day was a pretty special effort. We thought the pitch was going to get better, so it was a case of trying to get through the new ball and then cashing in. The guys did it perfectly.
“Yatesy was magnificent. He came into the game in not the best of form, but you’d have thought he had been reeling off centuries. It was a really high-class innings.”
India Test batsman Vihari was also highly influential upon the victory, said Rhodes, and not just while batting.
“On the two mornings when we were batting, Hanuma spoke about how to play Harmer,” he said. “He spoke really well and that was gold dust for our right-handers especially. Also seeing the way he played him in the first innings gave the lads a lot of confidence.
“He batted beautifully with Yatesy and then Hainy came in and did what he does brilliantly. That’s his niche – if you’ve got 120 to find under pressure on the last day, there’s no better player.”
Essex were left nursing their first championship defeat in two years and their head coach Anthony McGrath handed high praise to the Bears.
“We are not used to losing and the boys are hurting in there, but all credit to Warwickshire, they paced that innings really well,” he said. “The pitch did become benign but you have still got to put the runs on the board and, against the quality of our attack, that does take some doing, so all credit to them. Nothing should deflect from the quality of their victory.”