'So foul and fair a day I have not seen.' Though Shakespeare was probably not thinking of Warwickshire when he penned the first act of Macbeth, his words, as so often, are eerily prescient.
For there was a bitter taste to Warwickshire's crushing victory over top-of-the-table Hampshire. Heath Streak's superb six for 31 sentenced the visitors to defeat within two days, thereby taking the champions within five points of the summit with a game in hand.
But amid the joy, this victory has come at a heavy price; the future of cricket at Stratford. For the second year running at this festival, Warwickshire's best-laid plans were thwarted. Last year, foul weather ruined the game against Lancashire; this year, feeble batting and high-quality seam bowling sentenced this match to an early grave.
Warwickshire County Council, who are underwriting this festival, face a heavy financial shortfall. The 130 corporate hospitality guests expected today will be offered the opportunity to mingle with Warwickshire's players in an effort to satisfy them but the loss of two days' cricket cannot be replaced. It is highly unlikely that Warwickshire will play first-class cricket at Stratford again.
Not since 1999 have Warwickshire completed a Championship victory inside two days. That game, against Sussex at Edgbaston - Ian Bell's debut, incidentally - was played on a rogue pitch, providing excessive assistance for the seamers.
This pitch will undoubtedly come in for criticism. True, it aided the seamers. True, there was grass aplenty left on the surface. But it would have been foolhardy indeed for Warwickshire to go into a game against a team containing Shane Warne in conditions that suited him and though there was movement in the air, this pitch was no minefield. Hampshire and the umpires agreed: there was nothing wrong with it.
If swing bowling is something of a forgotten art, the art of playing swing bowling has become a complete mystery. Hampshire's batsmen prodded and fenced throughout this match, offering neither the technique nor the application to resist. It would have been mighty hard to deny Streak in this form, but Hampshire made it look impossible.
Bowling an immaculate line and length, he probed around the off-stump at a faster pace than he has produced for over a year. He was marvellous and was wellsupported by a slip cordon in which Jonathan Trott is the star. Indeed, though Trott's form with the bat has been below par, his catching is so good that one could argue that it increases his worth by around 500 runs a year.
"Not many balls misbehaved," Streak said afterwards. "The ball swung quite a lot and we bowled well. Their batsmen followed the ball and there was enough bounce in the pitch to make sure the edges carried to the slips. In terms of swing bowling, it was my best performance for Warwickshire."
John Crawley was first to go in Streak's opening spell of four for 11, prodding at one that lifted and moved away, before Dougie Brown deceived Chris Benham with one that nipped back. Greg Lamb nibbled at one that left him before Trott took a brilliant, low catch at slip to dismiss the dangerman, Kevin Pietersen, edging a perfect outswinger.
Nic Pothas, whose drop of Ian Westwood on five took on ever greater significance, fenced a lifting ball to gully and, though Sean Ervine and Michael Brown put together the visitors' highest partnership of the match (48), Ervine followed an outswinger and Warne was bowled slogging across the line.
Brown (three sixes and three fours) was almost alone in his defiance. He resisted stoutly, waiting for the short ball which he pulled effectively but when he was ninth out, attempting a repeat of the shot, the writing was on the wall for Hampshire.
Nick Knight (39 off 21 balls, eight fours) stroked a succession of boundaries through cover as Warwickshire passed their victory target of 44 in just 28 deliveries. His partner, Ian Westwood, can feel equally proud of his performance; his first-innings 68 was the highest score of the match and he has surely earned an extended run in the side.
Warwickshire's victory was even more impressive given their poor batting earlier in the day. Warne bowled with familiar mastery, finding prodigious turn, but the hosts were disappointed to lead by only 81 after the platform their openers had provided.
"We gave away a couple of soft dismissals, but we bounced straight back," Streak continued. "It was a fine all-round performance."