EDGBASTON: Warwickshire (124 for eight) lost to Northamptonshire (137 for eight) by 13 runs
Warwickshire will play Kent in the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 despite falling to a 13-run defeat to Northamptonshire in their final group game on Friday night.
The game will take place at Edgbaston on a date to be determined between Monday July 7 and Wednesday July 9.
It is undoubtedly a tough draw. Kent are the reigning Twenty20 champions and have a team that is well-suited to the format. After just one loss from their qualifying campaign, however, Warwickshire should feel confident against any opposition.
Perhaps the visitors simply wanted victory more last night. While Warwickshire were already assured of a home draw in the last eight, Northants required victory to have a chance of a home tie and appeared slightly sharper throughout.
That’s not to say that Warwickshire were sloppy or complacent. Only that, perhaps subconsciously, they seemed to lack the zeal they had shown in earlier games.
There was some irony in the fact that the highest innings of the evening came from David Sales.
The Northamptonshire batsman, who the previous day rejected Warwickshire’s contract offer, showed all his class in a 37-ball innings that included a sumptuous pull for six off Chris Woakes and an audacious flicked six off Tim Groenewald.
It was Steven Crook who produced the key performance of the evening, however. Crook helped add 28 from the final 11 balls of the innings, driving Neil Carter and Groenewald for sixes and in a ten-ball innings that proved the difference between the sides.
Until then, Warwickshire had appeared to be on top. Woakes began the innings with a wicket maiden, while the visitors lost five wickets for 16 runs in five overs between the 14th and 19th overs.
Ian Salisbury continued his excellent tournament for Warwickshire. He is the most economical regular bowler in the competition, conceding just five runs an over and again delivered a tight spell that deservedly won him the man of the match award.
A superb one-handed diving catch from Groenewald, running around the mid-wicket boundary to dismiss Niall O’Brien, underlined the continued excellence of Warwickshire’s fielding.
Perhaps Warwickshire’s captain, Ant Botha, erred by not bowling himself more. After delivering two tight overs (he is the second-most economical regular bowler in the entire competition) he instead allowed Carter to bowl the final over. It cost 16 runs which, bearing in mind the margin of defeat, might well have been crucial.
It was Warwickshire’s batting that let them down, however. In the face of some excellent bowling from Johan Louw and Johan van der Wath, they suffered three run-outs as the composure that had served them so well in earlier games deserted them.
The most costly loss was that of Jonathan Trott. After playing the ball to backward point he looked up to see Tony Frost charging through for a single, leaving both men at the same end of the pitch.
Frost and Carter both missed sweeps, Jim Troughton’s drive was beaten by a good one that nipped back and Michael Powell and Salisbury skied catches as the chase grew more desperate in desperately poor light.
Botha, too, was run-out though he can feel somewhat unfortunate as umpire Jeremy Lloyds was hopelessly out of position and appeared to be looking in the opposite directionwhen he gave the decision.
Meanwhile, chief executive Colin Povey reflected on the reasons that Sales turned down Warwickshire’s contract offer, concluding that the club could have done no more to attract him.
“We’re trying to avoid a Dutch auction where everything comes down to money,” Povey explained. “Money isn’t really the dominant factor with these guys. We can afford as much as the next county, but we’re trying to attract them through what we’re trying to achieve here.
“I do think that with our senior coaches [Ashley Giles and Allan Donald] have a lot of respect from a lot of people.
“Our facilities are a damned site better than most clubs and everyone seems keen to have a conversation with us.
“We were reasonably positive [about Sales’ signing] last night [Thursday]. We sensed he was ready to move [clubs] and though he was not keen to relocate, we didn’t think that was a problem.”
The rest of Warwickshire’s attempted signings are described as “all still live,” while the club last night announced that Jimmy Anyon has signed his new two-year contract to stay as Edgbaston. Carter is expected to follow suit shortly.
Meanwhile the club are confident that the scoreboard issues that marred the end of the Somerset game can be avoided in future matches. “I had a fairly serious sense of humour failure over that,” Povey admitted on Friday.
A review took place following that game and concluded that human error was a major factor. But as a very similar incident occurred last night, it would appear the problem has not been resolved.
* Ashley Giles, Allan Donald and Chris Martin will be among those on the panel for a Warwickshire members’ forum from 7pm at Edgbaston on Monday night.
Meanwhile, Twenty20 Cup quarter-final tickets will be available from Sunday.