Warwickshire (22pts) beat Glamorgan (1pt) by an innings and 43 runs
Warwickshire made the perfect start to the defence of their Championship title with a convincing win over Glamorgan. It is perhaps not the most meaningful statistic in mid-April but, by taking maximum points, they again sit proudly at the top of the table.
In recent years Warwickshire have not started particularly well, this being the first time in almost a decade that they have won their first Championship match.
Much has been written about a young squad but most of the key players here (Nick Knight, Dougie Brown, Keith Piper and Ashley Giles) also played in that match, in May 1996 against Sussex. Michael Powell was also on the staff.
Warwickshire had not won a Championship match since last July. They were clinging on by the end of last season, exhausted and startled by their own success. This win replenishes the reservoir of confidence.
Glamorgan were, largely, perpetrators of their own downfall. Much of their batting was feckless and, though they bowled well (until the third morning when Neil Carter and Heath Streak's stand broke their spirit), their catching was distinctly fallible, undermining their attempts to recover. Had either of the chances that Ian Bell offered, or the one that Michael Powell gave on 46, been taken, we would be looking at a different scenario. Warwickshire cannot rely on such generosity.
Knight said: "The fielding was one of the key differences between the sides. We took some fantastic catches, Keith Piper had a very good game behind the stumps and there was a positive feel out there.
"We batted well but who knows what would have happened had Glamorgan held all their chances?
"In the dressing-room, we keep trying to instil these things. We aren't always going to score 500; we aren't always going to bowl sides out as easily as we did in this game. We aren't going to get carried away.
"I'm sure Glamorgan are pretty disappointed with the way they played, in the first innings in particular. It was a really good wicket and their total of 198 was well under par, but I'm delighted with the way we took advantage.
"I'm most pleased with the way in which we poured on the agony. Glamorgan may have opened the door for us but once it was open we kept the pressure on all the way and never allowed them back in."
Piper was quite exceptional. Having taken a fine catch in the first innings to help dismiss Matthew Maynard, he completed two superb stumpings.
Neither was easy. With Giles varying his pace, bowling with some flight and finding turn out of the footmarks, both batsmen were stranded.
The stumping of Wharf from a leg-side wide was particularly impressive. Piper said: "I was pleased with that performance. It's 18 months since I've played Championship cricket and I really enjoyed being out there. I'm on only a one-day contract so I was happy to help out in this game. It's not a question of me keeping a place in the side; it's about me helping out when I'm needed."
Neither Piper nor Knight would be drawn on the implications of the keeper's performance but suffice it to say that the battle for first-choice keeper at the club has been reignited.
It's facile to speculate on whether Tony Frost - or indeed Geraint Jones - would have taken such chances. Frost is an underrated 'keeper and a better batsman than Piper. But, goodness me, Piper was superb.
Knight said: "Keith had a very good game, Michael Powell was magnificent and Nick Warren bowled well too, but this was a team performance."
With Glamorgan resuming on the final day 153 runs in arrears, their best hope lay with the weather. Despite the dark clouds hovering for much of the day, the rain never came.
Their batsmen, intent on being positive, crossed the line into recklessness. All the wickets to fall on Saturday were to aggressive shots and the crushing defeat is indicative not of a lack of ability but a lack of gumption.
Giles made the breakthrough. The left-handed Mark Wallace, struggling to deal with spin out of the footmarks, skipped down the pitch but could only squeeze the ball between bat and pad. Piper, scooping up the bobbling ball with deceptive ease, did the rest.
Streak struck the killer blow with the very next delivery. Nipping one back, he removed the middle and leg stumps of the dangerous Michael Powell who attempted an expansive drive. Warwickshire knew that victory was in sight.
Darren Thomas and Robert Croft added 75 in 19 overs. Thomas scored an aggressive 46 but Carter, who bowled well without much reward, had him taken by Alex Loudon (substitute for Mark Wagh) off a hook to deep square leg. He should have had Croft almost immediately afterwards but Jonathan Trott failed to cling on to an edged drive at second slip.
It made little difference. Glamorgan struggled through to lunch. Moments later Croft chipped a slower ball to midon and Giles deceived David Harrison in the flight.
Giles, with nine wickets for 129 in the match, is available for only another three matches before departing on England duty. He'll be sorely missed. "He was outstanding," Knight said. "He gives us a real cutting edge and we'll miss him when he goes."
Dewald Pretorius is unlikely to play against Kent at Canterbury on Wednesday while Wagh is out for a month with an injury to muscles in his left knee.