County Championship - final day of four (at Edgbaston): Somerset 147 (C J C Wright 4-47) & 354 (N R D Compton 133 J C Buttler 93) v Warwickshire 243 & 262-8 (W T S Porterfield 84 P D Trego 4-37)
Warwickshire (20pts) beat Somerset (3pts) by 2 wkts
Many judges believe the county championship has never been stronger or better.
That view was supported by Warwickshire’s season-opener, a wonderful contest which fluctuated time after time before finally falling the Bears’ way on Sunday afternoon.
It was 2.23pm on the final day when an ever-winding plot at last unravelled as Jim Troughton thrashed four to seal a sensational two-wicket victory over Somerset.
Troughton (15, 65 balls) and Jeetan Patel (a stunning 43, 36 balls, three sixes) had added 55 for the ninth-wicket.
Full credit to both sides. Heaven knows, neither deserved to lose. What a fine match and, for the Bears’ supporters shivering in the spring sunshine, what a terrific finish.
Chasing 259, Troughton’s side looked good as Will Porterfield’s polished 84 took them to within 80 with seven wickets left. But Peter Trego powered Somerset back into the match with three wickets in seven balls as the pendulum swung yet again.
That the final swing went the Bears’ way sends them to Liverpool to face champions Lancashire on Thursday in great heart.
The Bears resumed on the final morning on 123 for two and, for an hour, advanced smoothly. Porterfield and Ian Westwood stretched their stand to 102 before the latter (32, 140 balls) fatally offered no stroke to Vernon Philander.
Porterfield added 45 with Darren Maddy and Warwickshire looked set fair at 190 for three. Then came Trego’s flurry.
Maddy copped a dubious lbw decision, Porterfield (84, 161 balls, 12 fours) miscued a pull and Tim Ambrose drilled back a return-catch first ball.
When Rikki Clarke chipped a catch back to Steve Kirby, four wickets had fallen in 31 balls and the Bears still needed 55 runs with three wickets left.
That became 52 with two left when a Trego lifter forced Keith Barker into evasive action which dislodged a bail with his boot. Warwickshire lunched at 216 for eight with just the denouement left in this magnificent math. And what a denouement.
As Troughton defended, Patel lifted Trego and Philander for six before Somerset turned to spinner George Dockrell.
Patel dispatched his first three balls for 6-4-4 and 19 from five offerings from the unfortunate twirler saw the Bears home.