County Championship: Warwickshire beat Somerset to win first title since 2012

Warwickshire celebrate
Warwickshire players celebrate after beating Somerset to claim the County Championship title
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 Headlingley 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.

Chris Woakes takes the wicket of Jack Leach
England team-mate Jack Leach was one of Chris Woakes’ three second-innings wickets

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.

Bears deliver ‘near-perfect performance’

Warwickshire's morning run march was spearheaded by Rob Yates' fourth County Championship century of the season at Edgbaston
Warwickshire’s morning run march was spearheaded by Rob Yates’ fourth County Championship century of the season at Edgbaston

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 today and that is more or less what they have delivered.

They needed quick runs this morning to give themselves the maximum amount of time to bowl Somerset out this afternoon, on a pitch that seemed pretty hard work to get wickets throughout this game.

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 have done it with a fair bit of time to spare.

It is their first title since 2012 and a fine achievement for a young team that has got to this point rather quicker than they thought they were going to.

More to follow.

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