Both Warwickshire sides pulled off famous victories on day four of the AEGON Summer County Cup, Group One at Eastbourne.
The men upset highly-fancied Lancashire 5-4 and the women, after a disappointing 4-5 defeat by Essex in their unfinished match, then posted their first win of the week, thrashing Leicestershire 6-3.
Gary Naughton’s young team, whose only loss so far came on the opening day of the championship, kept their nerve in several crucial rubbers. Both their firsts, Maniel Bains and Steven Lee and their thirds, the consistent Nathan Rooney and James Southwood, won two out of three, although newcomer Elliot Barnwell and Andrew Fitzpatrick beat only the Lancashire seconds.
This leaves the team guaranteed survival and mathematically capable of taking the title if they score a heavy victory today against Dorset, while unbeaten Hertfordshire lose to Lancashire. The results would depend on a countback on rubbers with three sides all capable of finishing on four wins out of five.
The women face a more pressing problem of how they can take the five – ideally six – rubbers they need to avoid relegation against a useful Buckinghamshire side whose first pair, Jemima Hayward and Julia Bone, are unbeaten all week.
Sadly the Midlanders just failed to topple a wavering Essex side when their first pair Luisa Cowper and Leyla Ogan lost a deciding championship tiebreak against their opponents’ top pair Sophie Cockell and Jane Rabot 6-10.
In the Leicestershire match, second pair Hannah James and Jess Jackson were the heroines of the hour, winning three out of three and combining superbly together, while at third pair 15-year-old Manisha Foster looked sharp and feisty as she and Aimee Jarrett beat their opposite numbers in straight sets.
Sadly captain Katie Shaw will be without Luisa Cowper for the final day and expects to blood 17-year-old Anjoli Foster, probably partnering Jarrett at third pair while sister Manisha will team up with the highly experienced Leyla Ogan.
“I was hugely impressed by how Hannah and Jess played today and really proud of them,” said Shaw. “Their teamwork was awesome and they were incredibly professional, particularly against the highly experienced Leicestershire first pair – but they’ll have to repeat that sort of performance against Bucks if we’re to have any chance of staying up.”
Warwickshire’s diehard band of supporters will be cheering their hearts out as they try to urge the men on to an unlikely championship victory and the depleted women’s side to unexpected survival in this competitive group.