|LV= County Championship Division One, Edgbaston, Birmingham (day four):|
|Warwickshire 367: Hain 83, Rhodes 60, Sibley 56, Briggs 53*; Overton 5-88 & 294-3 dec: Yates 132*, Rhodes 62, Sibley 50|
|Somerset 389: Gregory 68, Azhar Ali 60, Lammonby 59, Davies 52; Bresnan 3-35, Briggs 3-77, Woakes 3-100 & 154: Miles 3-26, Woakes 3-39,|
|Warwickshire (22 pts) beat Somerset (6 pts) by 118 runs|
Warwickshire won their their first County Championship since 2012 as they beat Somerset by 118 runs at Edgbaston.
After declaring at 294-3 to set Somerset 273 to win in 79 overs, the Bears bowled out the visitors for 154.
The Bears’ eighth title triumph denied Lancashire, who will instead have to settle for second place – and a meeting with Warwickshire in next week’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
England all-rounder Chris Woakes took 3-39 as Somerset collapsed from 31-0.
Craig Miles took 3-26, while Liam Norwell claimed the final wicket of Somerset last man Jack Brooks – but local boys Woakes and Rob Yates, with his 132 not out, led the Bears’ fight.
Woakes at his best for Bears
After a three-year absence from the Bears’ red-ball team because of his England commitments, Woakes has bounced right back to his best form over the past two matches to take 12 wickets.
Woakes is the only survivor from the Bears’ last title triumph in 2012, when he made eight appearances – and he followed his 3-40 and 3-26 on his return to action against Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley last week by again taking six wickets in the match here.
In a fitting finale to an otherwise frustrating injury and Covid-affected season for the ‘Brummie Botham’, it was also good news for England.
Woakes also more than proved his fitness ahead of this winter’s scheduled Ashes tour, sending down 46.3 overs in the match as the Bears’ most utilised bowler.
Cruel luck on Lancashire
It was very hard luck on Lancashire, one of the four teams separated by just 6.5 points at the start of this final round of matches.
After Nottinghamshire dropped out of the running, they had ended Hampshire’s hopes of a first title since 1973 in Liverpool on Thursday with a thrilling Dane Vilas-inspired one-wicket victory at Aigburth.
And if the Bears had failed, Lancashire would have been champions for the first time since 2011 when, with some irony, they beat Somerset at Taunton to pip Warwickshire to the title.
Instead, their outright title count remains at eight, although they did also share the title with Surrey in 1950.
They now have the chance to make amends over five days at Lord’s next week in the second Bob Willis Trophy final, starting on Tuesday, although the weather forecast is none too promising.
It is the third year in succession that Somerset, also beaten here at Edgbaston on Saturday night in the T20 Blast final, have been present when English cricket’s red-ball title was won.
Bears batting comes good
Warwickshire are the first side to win the Championship without once posting a 400-plus score.
Their first-innings total of 367 in this game was even bettered by Somerset, who put behind them their own recent string of batting failures to post 389 for a 22-run lead.
But, after finally bowling Somerset out, openers Yates and England’s Dom Sibley, who made his second 50 of the match, constructed the Bears’ first century opening partnership of the season in Thursday’s final session.
And, after resuming on 179-1, Yates went on to reach his fourth Championship ton of the summer as the Bears plundered a further 115 in 15 overs before declaring after just an hour, aided by skipper Will Rhodes (62) and Matt Lamb (27 not out).
Rhodes set a bold declaration target and he was rewarded when the Bears fast bowlers, spearheaded by Woakes, really steamed in – and Somerset folded miserably as the hosts took their catches.
Former England all-rounder Tim Bresnan, twice a title winner before with Yorkshire, Sam Hain, twice, and Yates all took fine catches.
And Norwell removed Steven Davies with a yorker that hit middle and off before Woakes sent fellow England paceman Craig Overton’s off stump flying, then did the same to Jack Leach. But it was fittingly captain Rhodes who pouched the final slip catch.
That allowed him to joined the illustrious list of six previous Bears captains – Frank Foster (1914), Tom Dollery (1951), AC Smith (1972), Dermot Reeve (1994 and 1995), Nick Knight (2004) and Jim Troughton (2012) – to have led their team to the title.
Bears deliver ‘near-perfect performance’
Analysis – BBC Radio WM commentator Mike Taylor
I read a report this morning that Warwickshire would need a near-perfect performance if they were going to win – and that is more or less what they have delivered.
They needed quick runs to give themselves the maximum amount of time to bowl out Somerset this afternoon, on a pitch that seemed pretty hard work to get wickets throughout.
They batted furiously this morning to set the target, left themselves 79 overs to bowl and, in front of a crowd that, given free entry, grew throughout the day, they did it with a fair bit of time to spare.
It is a fine achievement for a young team that has got to this point rather quicker than they thought they were going to.
‘The guys found the energy they needed’ – reaction
Warwickshire first-team coach Mark Robinson told BBC Radio WM:
“I’m very happy. It’s hard to put into words. It’s a monumental effort on a very good, placid wicket – to win with 20 overs to spare.
“This really captured where we have been at our best all year. We have had to do it the hard way at times. We strained for that last bonus point and couldn’t get it and needed Lancashire to help us out. They did and we took advantage.
“Our batting this morning was excellent from Yates, Rhodes and Lamb and then we kept taking wickets. The guys just found the energy they needed – it’s amazing how you find that energy when you have impetus.”
Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes told BBC Radio 5 Live:
“It’s going to take a while to sink in, but it’s an unbelievable feeling and a very, very proud moment.
“I think we knew about Lancashire winning quite early in our second innings last night and we knew it was back in our hands.
“We knew what we had to do today to get the job done and get ourselves over the line.
“We had to dangle the carrot for Somerset. We always wanted to lure them in to trying to win the game and we were prepared to lose it, trying to win.
“This pitch was obviously a bit of a belter, but we knew that day four at Edgbaston is always a place where any result is possible.
“We bowled very, very nicely and when you’ve got the likes of Chris Woakes and Liam Norwell in your attack, you’re always going to have a chance to take 10 wickets.
“At the moment, none of us are really thinking about having to play a game next week, we’ll enjoy this and then prepare for that when we get down to London on Monday.”
Somerset head coach Jason Kerr:
“It was disappointing to lose it in that manner after competing hard for three days.
“It was a fair declaration but we did not bat well enough. There were some magic balls bowled but some soft dismissals.
“It has been a poor month for us. People tend to remember the cricket you play in September but I hope they will also remember the good cricket we played up to August.”