Final day: Warwickshire (18pts) defeated Nottinghamshire (3) by 60 runs

Warwickshire confirmed their status as realistic Champion-ship candidates in a game targeted as "defining" by their captain, Heath Streak, before the season.

Considering the pair of resounding defeats Nottinghamshire inflicted on their way to the Championship trophy last season, a draw would have marked a significant improvement for the Bears.

Instead the 18 points gained from victory takes Warwick-shire within one point of the top of the table.

"When you play the champions you have the chance to measure yourself against the best," said director of cricket Mark Greatbatch. "I'm very pleased with the results of that test.

"Our fighting qualities shone through once again. There is a resilience in this team that pleases me a great deal and should put us in good shape for the rest of the season."

Nottinghamshire made them work hard for the win.

Though the dangerous stand of 123 between David Alleyne and Mark Ealham for the sixth-wicket was broken in just the sixth over of the final day, the hosts fought hard and ensured more than a few anxious moments for Warwickshire.

Indeed, for the second successive match, victory was achieved in the nick of time. Only a few minutes after leaving the field the heavens opened.

The key man on the final day was Jimmy Anyon. Anyon has not started the season in the best of form, by his own admission, but is highly thought of by his colleagues and the coaching staff. He is young and inexperienced and will surely find greater consistency.

In this game Anyon was the bowler Warwickshire want him to be. He hit a length, gave little away and fully deserved the seven wickets he took.

"Jimmy Anyon was exceptional," Greatbatch said. "He bowled very well with the old ball, hurrying even their best players."

But the difference between these sides wasn't ability; it was team spirit and unity. Nottinghamshire individuals produced the stand out performances; Alleyne with the bat and Andy Harris with the ball. Warwickshire found partnerships when they batted, and bowled as a unit.

While the hosts occasionally sniped at each other in the field; the visitors supported one another.

The Bears have experienced good times and bad, and won several games from tight situations. The result is a spirit where each member of the side feels confidence in and confidence from their team-mates.

It's the difference between Surrey (of Division Two) and Warwickshire. The club owe much to the policies of Nick Knight when he was captain.

Ealham's was the first wicket to fall on the final morning. Struggling to progress against a tight spell of bowling from Anyon, he made the mistake of playing across the line on a pitch of

uneven bounce and gifting a catch to mid-wicket. Paul Franks soon followed. Again trying to whip Jim Troughton's pleasing left-arm spin across the line, Franks only succeeded in presenting a bat-pad catch to leg gully.

Graeme Swann's innings summed up his career. A burst of sweetly-struck fours and a lovely driven six, all off Troughton, illustrated his talent. The ugly carve to point off an Ian Bell long-hop amply demonstrated the infuriating way he hasn't harnessed it.

That should have been it. Neither Ryan Sidebottom or Harris have any pretensions as batsmen, while Alleyne hadn't scored a 50 before this game.

Yet led by the excellent Alleyne, Notts not only saw off the new ball burst from Streak and Dougie Brown, but made inroads into their target. With much of the swing having disappeared and the capricious pitch playing better than at any time in the game, batting appeared disturbingly comfortable.

This was just the 12th match of Alleyne's career. Aged 30, he has spent his working life in the shadows, first to David Nash at Middlesex and then to Chris Read at Notts. But he looks a highly proficient cricketer and is expected to retain his place as a specialist batsman on Read's return.

Alleyne deserved his unbeaten 109 (257 balls, 14 fours). He was dropped once, on 74, off the full face of the bat at short leg by Ian Westwood off Troughton, and didn't deserve to be on the losing team.

In the end he was let down by his partners. Sidebottom was undone by desperately low bounce, Harris hesitated over a quick single and Warwickshire were home. And just about dry.

The only concern remains the burden on Streak. He has bowled 146.3 first-class overs already this season and his incisions still appear a prerequisite of a successful team performance. To his credit, however, Anyon has just as many wickets (16), from only four fewer overs and is improving by the game.

"I don't agree that we lack depth to our bowling attack," said Greatbatch. "Dougie Brown also had an excellent all-round game. His partnership with Moeen Ali in the first innings was crucial and he deserved more than four wickets.

"The likes of Tim Groenewald came into the last game and did a great job for us. Nick Warren and Naqaash Tahir are also on the way back. We've played 17 guys in the games so far this season and they've all done a good job. I'm very happy with the strength in depth of our squad."

That strength in depth has left Greatbatch and Streak with some difficult decisions to make ahead of tomorrow's Championship game against Hampshire at Edgbaston. Neil Carter, Alex Loudon, Mark Wagh and Tony Frost are all available and pushing for recalls.

One man who may miss out, however, is Freddie Klokker. Klokker was 15 not out when he was called out of Nottinghamshire Seconds game against Derbyshire and his head must be spinning with all the cricket he is playing at present.

He looked less comfortable standing up to the spinners than he did to the seamers, but has impressed with his positive personality. He is unlikely to win a deal anywhere midway through the season, however. ..SUPL: