The resistance is better but the result stays the same

The result that was favourite at the start of the final day was exactly how it ended as Warwickshire wrapped up a comprehensive victory by an innings and 105 runs in the LV= County Championship encounter at the County Ground.

James Middlebrook made 50 before falling to Jeetan Patel
James Middlebrook made 50 before falling to Jeetan Patel

The home side, who resumed on 51-3, offered up more resistance than in previous games with Matt Spriegel sticking around for the best part of two sessions but it all proved in vain as the dominant Bears claimed their just reward.

Over the four days there were marginal improvements - Rob Newton mainly - and that is something to hang the hat on but the final outcome doesn’t lie and once again the picture is anything but pretty.

The first half of the morning session was evenly balanced as James Middlebrook and Spriegel continued their good work of the previous evening.

The former was the more adventurous of the two, although their attritional approach meant that’s not saying much, but for the best part of an hour they resisted with few alarms.

That changed when Chris Woakes opted for a short-pitched approach from round the wicket, a tactic which neither of the batsmen looked comfortable with.

It should’ve worked but Varun Chopra obviously hadn’t read the script as he allowed a chance from Middlebrook to fly through his hands at first slip.

The opener, with a drive through wide mid-on off Jeetan Patel, reached a thoroughly deserved half century but he couldn’t make the most of his good fortune as, in the off-spinner’s next over, he chipped to short midwicket.

Rob Newton couldn’t repeat his first innings effort as he edged Patel behind off the back foot but Spriegel’s vigil endured until the lunch break with his 23 taking up 124 deliveries.

With the damage sustained not too bad, the County went into the afternoon in relatively good shape but their plight worsened when Ben Duckett was undone by an age-old two-card trick.

Rikki Clarke, taking Woakes’ lead at the Abington Avenue end, had already forced Spriegel to fend one over gully and two overs later a perfectly directed bouncer located the side of Duckett’s helmet.

This necessitated a visit from the physio at the end of the over but when he took guard again, the very next ball from Chris Wright was pitched up and angled across with Duckett’s tentative push directing it straight to William Porterfield at second slip.

Andrew Hall brought a more forthright approach to his innings, a couple of slog-swept sixes off Patel evidence of that, but following 45 minutes of occupation he provided Woakes with wicket number four.

While all of this was taking place Spriegel was quietly going about his business and doing a fine job of it.

With barely an aggressive shot - his three boundaries of the day coming via a cut and two flicks off the hip - the left-hander staunchly defied whatever was thrown at him and that included plenty of short stuff.

It was a pity that his four-and-a-half hour stay ended on 42, which took up 171 balls, with a catch off the face of the bat to short leg but it was worthy of plenty of praise.

However, his departure signalled the beginning of the end and that came in the same Clarke over.

Steven Crook, who had struck a few boundaries in a breezy affair, fell to a sharp catch by Laurie Evans at short leg and three balls later Maurice Chambers was hit in front.

The grisly details are that a meagre 31 points have been collected from seven games and there have now been six defeats in a row of which four have been by an innings.

And that says it all.