Sunday 15th April
Warwickshire, 243 & 262/8, beat Somerset, 147 & 354, by two wickets.
William Porterfield struck an eye pleasing 84, aided by some tail-end pyrotechnics from New Zealand's Jeetan Patel, as Warwickshire completed a two wicket victory over Somerset at Edgbaston.
Victory will be of great relief to Warwickshire, who had found themselves unexpectedly staring down a Thatcher's Gold branded barrel after a middle order collapse of five wickets for 17 runs in 47 balls; prior to that they had required just 69 runs to win with seven wickets in hand.
Nobody will be more relieved than Jim Troughton. The Warwickshire captain, renowned for being a safe pair of hands in the field, had inexplicably dropped the simplest of catches at mid-off with Jos Buttler, who proceeded to make 93, fresh to the crease on 7. Troughton did gain a measure of redemption by hitting the winning runs, but remains somewhat indebted to Patel who contributed 43 toward their 55 run partnership.
In a game that ebbed and flowed from day one both sides had found themselves in winning positions only to relinquish with all too apparent haste. Porterfield, having played quite beautifully for his 84, was perhaps the prime example as he miscued a ghastly front-foot pull to Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps.
Somerset had earlier manoeuvred themselves in to a position of relative strength in the match courtesy of steady accumulation from second innings centurion Nick Compton (133) and the powerful stroke play of Buttler, of course with no small thanks to Jim Troughton. Warwickshire seamer Chris Wright, who was immensely impressive throughout and comfortably out-bowled South African counterpart Vernon Philander, returned to put an end to a stand of 167 and leave his side requiring 258 runs for victory.
After losing the early wickets of makeshift opener Neil Carter and Varun Chopra, Warwickshire made serene progress through Porterfield and Ian Westwood before the latter strangely offered no stroke to a straight delivery from Philander and was adjudged lbw, thus ending a stand of 102 between the pair. Former Bears captain Darren Maddy provided much needed impetus to the chase, but after falling lbw to the impressive Peter Trego unforeseen madness swiftly ensued.
Following the ungainly dismissal of Porterfield, who fell three runs short of his highest score in a Warwickshire shirt, former England wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose offered a return catch to fall for a golden duck and leave Trego on a hat-trick. His next delivery proved to be a no-ball, though Trego's spell of three wickets in seven balls for no runs had by now managed to suppress the earlier raucous din periodically emanating from some individuals residing in the members stand.
Rikki Clarke came and went, as did Keith Barker who was bizarrely out hit-wicket from the bowling of Trego. Barker, hopping about as if he were facing a prime, genetically modified Allan Donald, was hit on the ear piece of the helmet by a Trego bouncer and duly trod on his stumps. One suspects that won't be the last short ball Barker will have to contend with this season.
Enter Jeetan Patel. Warwickshire's overseas signing, with the club for a third consecutive season, had bagged a duck in the first innings and offered little hope to the hardy souls dotted around a chilly Edgbaston. Yet, with 52 still required for victory, the New Zealander launched an astonishing counter-attack that stunned Somerset. Swatting sixes over long -on and third man, off the bowling of Trego and Philander respectively, Patel set about rapidly reducing the requirement. Somerset captain Marcus Trescothick introduced spinner Dockrell to the attack in an attempt to lure Patel in to a false stroke, only to be met with another six and two fours before Patel took a single allowing captain Troughton to spare his own blushes with a back-foot drive to the boundary to secure victory.
A thrilling County Championship match, yet one that was witnessed by disappointingly few. Warwickshire, without key bowlers Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin, and with England batsmen Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott returning imminently, may just be ones to watch in this year's title race.
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