What is the greatest single bowling performance that we have ever seen from a Warwickshire bowler? It's a great debate and Brian Halford puts forward six of the best for consideration.
Match figures: 32.1-8-76-15 (15.4-4-41-6 and 16.3-4-35-9) v Surrey at The Oval. May 5, 6, 1903
When Warwickshire were due to open their season against Surrey at The Oval on May 4, 1903, left-arm spinner Sam Hargreave was on a boat chugging through the English Channel on the way back Australia. It was raining.
That rain prevented play on the opening day at The Oval – and enabled one of the great bowling display in county cricket.
Hargreave stepped ashore at Tilbury and hot-footed it to The Oval in time to join the team when the match got underway on day two. And never mind his unusual prep, he then ran through Surrey’s illustrious batting. Twice.
His first-inning six-for sent the home side collapsing from 56 for one to 82 all out – but Sam was only warming up. Second time around he was virtually unplayable and fell just one wicket short of harvesting the Bears’ first all ten, Sydney Santall interrupting his charge with the wicket of Fred Holland.
Still, 15 for 76, having started the match aboard a ship – impressive.
25.1-5-51-10 v Yorkshire at Edgbaston, May 23, 1923
A working-class Brummie, Howell was a bowler of immense strength, pace and stamina – attributes that he shares with Greatest Ever Bears Overseas Player Allan Donald. But Howell achieved a couple of things which eluded A.D – he played inside-right for Wolves and took an all-ten.
Not only was this the first all-ten for Warwickshire but it came against the strongest team in the country. Yorkshire were champions and in an era of domination but, after they chose to bat, Howell got straight among them by removing the great opening pair Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe.
The White Rose ended a rain-affected opening day on 67 for five – all five to Harry. Next morning, as Norman Partridge wheeled away accurately at the other end, he brushed aside the rest. Yorkshire were all out for 113 and Harry had a ten-for – yet still ended up on the losing side! The White Rose won by 84 runs but H’s place in history was secure forever.
20.4-4-49-10 v Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston, July 24, 1946
To take an all-ten is one of the most difficult feats in cricket – and very rare. To take one without requiring a single catch from your ten colleagues is rarer still.
But that’s what Eric Hollies achieved against Nottinghamshire leaving the Greatest Ever Bears Spinner with a strong claim also to Greatest Ever Bears Bowling Performance.
After Warwickshire chose to bat and ground to 170 from 82.4 overs, their seamers made no inroads as Notts reached 47 without loss. Then Hollies bowled Walter Keeton and the big crowd (spectators flocked to cricket when it resumed after the war) watched, spellbound, as history unfolded before their eyes.
All ten wickets fell for 88 runs – all to Hollies; seven bowled, three lbw.
It was the ultimate pressure bowling – immaculate, devastating control with batsman after batsman deceived by subtle changes of pace and just enough turn to beat the edge. A genius at work.
15.4-4-44-8 v Derbyshire at Edgbaston, September 6, 1972
Sixty-seven days after his championship debut for the Bears, ‘Big Bob’ blitzed Derbyshire in the final home match of the season.
In a match in which the Bears only needed to avoid defeat to clinch the title, the visitors chose to bat and Willis swiftly removed openers Peter Gibbs and Alan Hill. On a pitch containing few demons (when Warwickshire batted, Willis’ new-ball partner and great mate David Brown scored a career-best 79) the England paceman made the ball fly.
He worked his way through the middle order and finished off the innings in the grand manner – with a hat-trick that perfectly showcased his skills and intelligence. Malcolm Page, having defied for a fine 125, edged a lifter to Rohan Kanhai in the cordon then lightning-fast straight ones smashed the stumps of Mike Hendrick and David Wilde.
Great bowling. Great analysis…which Bob was to better by one run for England on a famous day at Headingley nine years later…
Match figures: 43.4-6-158-13 (21.5-4-80-7 and 21.5-2-78-6) v Northamptonshire at Edgbaston, June 9-12, 2004
On a flat pitch (Warwickshire made 524), wickets had to be hard-earned and Zimbabwean paceman Heath Streak showed sublime skills to record the best championship figures ever by a player making his debut for a county.
Streak had every excuse not to hit the ground running for the Bears, both physically – he had not played a competitive game for five weeks – and mentally, having just been controversially sacked as Zimbabwe captain.
But leading an attack including Neil Carter, Dougie Brown, Naqaash Tahir, Ian Bell, Brad Hogg, Mark Wagh and Jim Troughton, he worked his way through the Northants first innings with seven for 80. The pitch offered nothing but Streak prised bounce and movement from it and, in the second innings, found reverse swing to add 6-78.
It was a display of high skill and massive heart and, as he also scored 61 with the bat, Streak powered his team to victory almost single-handed.
20.4-6-36-9 v Durham at Edgbaston, May 23, 2016
No bowler has taken an all-ten for Warwickshire since the covering of pitches, with cards stacked more and more in favour of batsmen, so a nine-for amounts to a feat just as impressive.
On a grey afternoon in 2016, Chris Woakes showed his class to unpick Durham with a string of what opponent Paul Collingwood described as “fast-medium leg-breaks.”
After Andy Umeed’s debut century lifted the Bears to 313, Durham’s reply moved serenely enough along to 92 for one. Then Woakes, from the Birmingham End, produced a pearler to castle Mark Stoneman and the procession was underway.
Olly Hannon-Dalby had taken the first wicket. Woakes grabbed the rest with lethal, perfectly-pitched seam-bowling backed up by superb catches, including four by Tim Ambrose.
It was world-class work by the man from Aston Manor – and had something else in common with the two ten-fors achieved for Warwickshire in championship cricket – it arrive
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