Twenty20 Cup - Quarter Final
Edgbaston - Kent 175-6 (D I Stevens 69) v Warwickshire 133-8
Kent beat Warwickshire by 42 runs
He may have enjoyed a wonderful start to his career as a professional cricketer, but Chris Woakes learnt on Thursday night what a cruel game cricket can be.
On the biggest day of his career to date, the 19-year-old experienced a horrid few minutes with the ball that saw him concede 27 in three deliveries and ordered out of the attack by the umpires. Worse of all, he will know that the incident played a major role in his side losing this Twenty20 Cup quarter-final.
Maybe it was nerves. Maybe it was inexperience. Or maybe the ball was damp. But Woakes, called back into the attack to deliver the 19th over of the Kent innings, was penalised for delivering two balls above waist height in that over.
Each was called a no-ball and, after the second, the umpires had no choice but to withdraw him from the attack.
To make matters worse, one of the no-balls was swung over mid-wicket for six, while he also conceded two fours and another six off the legitimate balls.
Darren Maddy completed the over, but when he too was driven for six, it meant Warwickshire had conceded 34 runs from it. It was a burden more than they could bear.
To rub salt in the wound, Woakes is highly likely to face a three-point disciplinary penalty from the England and Wales Cricket Board for the two offending deliveries.
Up until that point Woakes had bowled well throughout the competition. He beat the bat regularly in his first couple of overs of the quarter final and remains a young man with a bright future. No doubt he will be a wiser fellow for this experience and, in the fullness of time, might view the episode as part of his cricketing education.
It was, however, a very harsh way of learning the lesson.
Perhaps it was unnecessary, too. Warwickshire had copious other options for that over. New Zealand’s Test opening bowler, Chris Martin, did not bowl his full allocation despite an impressive opening spell. Nor did Neil Carter, Warwickshire’s most experienced Twenty20 performer, who had also bowled frugally up to that point.
Most surprising of all, Ant Botha, who was the second most economical bowler in the country in the group stages, was left with an over unbowled. Hindsight is always 20:20 (or should that be Twenty20?) but captain Darren Maddy surely erred in bestowing such a key task on one so young.
The evening had started so well for Warwickshire. Inserting Kent on a helpful pitch and with a slow outfield, the visitors had limped to just 76 for four at the end of the 14th over, as Warwickshire produced the tried and trusted methods that had served them so well in the preliminary rounds.
All that deserted them, however, as Kent plundered 99 in the final six overs of the innings. Man of the match Darren Stevens (32 balls, five sixes and six fours) deserves much credit for a brilliant innings, but Warwickshire will reflect that they made things too easy for him.
Tellingly, Stevens later declared himself “very surprised” that Carter was withdrawn from the attack.
Tim Groenewald was taken for 22 in the 15th over, punished for bowling ‘length’ deliveries, while Woakes’s full tosses were pulled over mid-wicket with ease. The two overs combined cost 56 runs and Warwickshire any realistic chance they had of reaching finals day.
Not for a moment did it appear as if Warwickshire’s batsmen would get close in reply. From the moment Carter was bowled, playing around a yorker, the hosts seemed to lack the firepower to chase the second largest total they have conceded this season.
Jonathan Trott and Tony Frost were becalmed, Michael Powell looked bereft of timing and Darren Maddy’s promising contribution was ended when he was called through for a sharp single only to see the bowler, Ryan McLaren, kick the ball on to the stumps.
Jim Troughton, punishing Simon Cook for three boundaries in four balls, flourish briefly, but when he allowed his back foot to leave his crease and was neatly stumped by the much maligned Geraint Jones, it was left to Botha (19 balls, two fours and two sixes) to add some gloss to the Warwickshire innings. Any hope of victory had long since vanished.
There could be few complaints. Kent were clearly the better team. Unlike Warwickshire, their batting line-up offers potential fireworks in depth (despite the absence of the injured Martin Van Jaarsveld), while the accuracy of their seamers compensated for the lack of a spinner.
So, Warwickshire’s Twenty20 Cup campaign reaches an anti-climatic conclusion. Still, the disappointing exit should not mask the progress they have made over the course of this competition. They looked an awful limited-overs team in the Friends Provident Trophy but have come together over the last few weeks and should now be able to stage a decent promotion challenge from the second division of the Pro-40.
They remain a work in progress, but most realistic supporters would surely have settled for a quarter-final spot when this competition began a few weeks ago.
* Warwickshire’s Second XI Trophy game against Glamorgan at Moseley was abandoned due to the wet weather. Warwickshire play Gloucestershire at Harborne on Friday in the same competition.
* Yorkshire have been kicked out of the Twenty20 Cup for fielding an ineligible player, with Nottinghamshire taking their place in the last eight.
Azeem Rafiq, 17, played in the crucial North Division group match against Nottinghamshire last month but Yorkshire had not only neglected to register the player as a first-teamer with the England and Wales Cricket Board, but it then emerged he did not hold a British passport.
The ECB's discipline commission ruled Yorkshire would be excluded from the remainder of this season's competition, with Nottinghamshire - beaten by nine wickets in the match Rafiq played in - now facing Durham in a quarter-final at Chester-le-Street.