C&G Trophy: Warwickshire (235-9) beat Leicestershire (162) by 83 runs
Their progress may be assured and the margin of victory may appear crushing, but it would be naive to claim that Warwickshire's one-day troubles are now behind them.
By dispensing with a poor Leicestershire side, Warwickshire duly booked their passage to the quarter-finals of this competition. But they will know that improvement is necessary if they are to defeat Kent at Edgbaston in mid-July, or indeed, if they are to improve their fitful one-day form.
There were certainly encouraging signs in this performance. Heath Streak was superb with bat and ball; Nick Knight produced the innings of the day; Tony Frost added late-order stability while Alex Loudon and Ian Bell delivered miserly spells. But, as a team, there are still substantial issues to resolve that shouldn't be masked by a facile victory.
Chief concern for Warwickshire is the continuing failure of their batsmen to adjust to this form of cricket. There is no doubting the promise of Jonathan Trott, Jim Troughton, Bell et al, but they have yet to translate that ability into results.
Yesterday at Edgbaston, Warwickshire appeared to have squandered a decent start. They lost six wickets in 19 overs in mid-innings before a stand of 55 from the final nine overs between Streak and Frost to ensured a competitive total.
"That was the turning point of the game," Knight agreed afterwards. "Heath and Tony's partnership was calm and showed the importance of having depth in our batting. It gave us the momentum and we took that into their innings.
"I'm realistic about our one-day form. There is quite a lot of room for improvement, but these guys have the raw materials to develop into great one-day players. But they are still young and it's up to us more experienced guys to guide them."
There is still an unhealthy reliance upon the individual excellence of Knight (86 balls, seven fours) in this form of cricket. For all his teammates' promise, their batting records in one-day cricket are poor. While Warwickshire's captain has a career record of 26 one-day centuries, his colleagues yesterday can muster just five between them.
Knight remains among the best one-day batsmen in England, indeed he would surely make it into a all-time England XI. On a tricky Edgbaston pitch, only he scored more than 38 and his reappearance as opener for the first time this season lent welcome stability to the top of the innings.
Neil Carter pulled an early six into the Hollies stand off Otis Gibson before falling to a super yorker and Troughton prodded at a straight ball, but Bell and Knight added 81 in the best demonstration of batting of the day.
On a slow wicket, Knight improvised brilliantly. He played a masterly reverse sweep off Dinesh Mongia, and waited on the back foot to punch anything short through point.
Bell looked in fine touch too, flicking boundaries off his legs and using his feet to loft the slower bowlers over the infield. But when he fell, beaten by turn as he skipped down the pitch, it precipitated a sharp decline.
Trott, bereft of confidence, prodded a return catch, Knight, who had just been dropped flicking Mongia to mid-wicket, compounded his error by repeating the shot, and Dougie Brown played down the wrong line. Loudon was superbly stumped off a legside wide and Trevor Penney missed an attempted guide to third man.
At that stage a score of under 200 was distinctly possible. But Frost and Streak attacked sensibly and, in Brown's words "probably proved the difference between us winning and losing."
Streak lifted Henderson into the club's committee room balcony to bring up the 200, while Frost stroked successive boundaries off Gibson, stepping back and lifting the fast bowler over cover before pulling the following short ball through square leg.
It was intelligent cricket, and should prove a fine example to the younger players as to how to pace a one-day innings.
In Leicestershire's reply Streak bowled a masterful opening spell. Swinging the ball both ways, he beat the bat on numerous occasions and deserved better than to see Frost floor a simple outside edge from John Maunders.
Instead Streak's pressure created opportunities for Brown. Darren Maddy drove on the up to point, Mongia clipped a half-volley off his toes to square leg and Hylton Ackerman played horribly across a fine delivery that nipped in. From 16 for three, and with the cream of their batting gone, Leicestershire never looked likely to recover.
Loudon and Bell strangled the lower order, conceding just 61 from 17.3 overs and taking six wickets in the process. It was a competitionbest performance for both men and they bowled with intelligence and skill. But some of the batting was feckless and tougher tests await.
There was also a welcome return to first team action for Naqaash Tahir. But several more of Warwickshire's young players will have to come on a great deal if Warwickshire are to challenge regularly in one-day cricket.
* Jonathan Trott and Dewald Pretorius are the notable names in the Warwickshire Seconds side to play Lancashire at Coventry and North Warwick tomorrow.
Fast bowler Robert Slowey, a Western Australian in Birmingham on John Inverarity's advice, also plays as does young trialist from Hull Bill Kirby and South African Ryan McLaren, who made a good impression against Hampshire.
SQUAD: Ian Westwood, Bill Kirby, Moeen Ali, Jonathan Trott, Ryan McLaren, Stuart Eustace, Danny Dalton, Adam Shantry, Tom Mees, Robert Slowey, Dewald Pretorius.