Somerset beat Warwickshire by four wickets
A marvellous all-round performance by Jonathan Trott against Somerset at Taunton last night could not help restore a Warwickshire season that is rapidly falling apart at the seams.
Warwickshire were, in effect, eliminated from two competitions in three days by Hampshire last week and have lost five of their last seven matches in all competitions.
Promotion is still possible in the totesport League as they have a match or two in hand but they are down to fifth in the table and have slipped behind Somerset.
Warwickshire had this match in the bag. With Somerset six down and the runrate creeping up to eight an over, this match should have been closed out.
But with bowlers and fieldsmen struggling to control the ball in the evening dew, Wes Durston (35 balls, six fours and a six) and John Francis (61 balls, one four) timed their assault perfectly and added 94 in 12 overs to turn this match.
Although the Bears had the worst of the conditions in the field they could hardly complain. Nick Knight won the toss and batted first and dew is always likely to be an issue during a day-night match so late in the season.
It would be wrong to imply simply that Warwickshire lost, however. Somerset won it by playing better at key moments. They were very impressive.
In contrast to most other counties, Somerset and Warwickshire have declined to hide behind Kolpak signings or two overseas players, and have instead concentrated upon developing players committed to the side in the longterm. It will serve them well.
Somerset's Matt Wood (39 balls, nine fours), with a sparkling half-century, showed he is one to keep an eye upon but it was another 24-year-old, Durston, that clinched victory by punishing Makhaya Ntini and Neil Carter for loose final spells.
Trott, the most impressive of all Warwickshire's young players (Ian Bell excepted) looked to have this match won for his side. He justified his promotion in the batting order with a maiden one-day century in county cricket - he has previously hit one for Boland - and two top-order wickets stalled Somerset's chase.
A county cap is surely due. Assured from the start, Trott (104 balls) played powerful shots all round the wicket, relishing a perfect pitch and striking ten crisp boundaries.
Trusted by his skipper with bowling at key stages, and coming on after only ten overs, he returned in the final onslaught. Trott's figures would have pleased a specialist on such a good pitch. He varied his pace well and bowled with excellent control.
Wood, dreadfully dropped by Carter on 38, was dismissed by a fine yorker before the dangerous James Hildreth played on without moving his feet.
Although Dougie Brown's bowling was again punished, he leapt to hold on to a marvellous catch running backwards from mid-on to dismiss Carl Gazzard before running out Keith Parsons with an inspired dive and flick.
Trevor Penney, with a sensibly-paced innings (51 balls, a four and a six) also impressed. With Trott he added 113 for the fifth wicket, rotating the strike, finding the gaps, and ensuring that Trott's good work - unlike Knight's on Saturday - was not squandered. Penney's fitness is a concern but his appointment as second XI coach with a one-day contract would see him remain an asset to the club.
Warwickshire, given a perfect start by Carter (29 balls, five fours and two sixes) and Knight (57 balls, five fours), raced to 100 in only the 15th over. Some fine bowling and recklessness - Knight was run out batting with Trott for a second time in succession - limited any late acceleration. Their total proved at least a dozen short.