Cardiff (final day of four): Warwickshire 421 (I J Westwood 176, A G Botha 62, R D B Croft 4-101) & 183-5 (I J Westwood 58, M J Powell 55) v Glamorgan 248 (G P Rees 77, J E Anyon 6-82) & 355 (J W M Dalrymple 67, D L Hemp 56, J N Gillespie 52, C R Woakes 5-59).
Warwickshire (22pts) beat Glamorgan (3pts) by 5 wkts
Two men at the opposite ends of their careers combined to lead Warwickshire to a five-wicket victory over Glamorgan in Cardiff.
Michael Powell and Chris Woakes led the way as Warwickshire claimed their second championship victory of the season. They now stand 16 points clear at the top of the Division Two table, though they have played a game more than their rivals.
In the long term it is surely Woakes’ performance here that will give Warwickshire supporters most heart. At 19 years and 99 days, he is the fourth youngest man in the club’s history to take five-wickets in a first-class innings and the youngest for nearly 40 years. It bodes exceedingly well for Woakes’ future. And the future of the club.
Wicket-taking bowlers are exactly what the club has been lacking. Not since the first week of May, 2007, when Dale Steyn propelled them to an innings victory over Worcestershire, have Warwickshire bowled a side out twice in the championship. That means they failed to do so for 19 games in succession; it is believed to be a record.
Yet in this game two young men, Jimmy Anyon (who claimed his 100th first-class wicket during this match) and Woakes combined to take 15 wickets.
Woakes, in particular, bowled beautifully. While his stock delivery, the outswinger, accounted for Jamie Dalrymple and Jason Gillespie, it was the one that he brought back in that accounted for Alex Wharf and Mark Wallace.
More pace should come naturally in the next few years and the unspoken hope is that Warwickshire have, at last, produced the home-grown seamer for which they have been crying out.
“I’m not going to say he’s the new ‘Freddy’ Flintoff or anything like that, but he has bags of potential,” said Ashley Giles afterwards. “His character and attitude are second to none at the club and he should go on to have a long, long career in the game. His feet are firmly on the ground, but he is a fantastic young cricketer.”
But if Woakes contribution was most significant, there was something highly satisfying about Powell’s contribution to the victory.
He has been somewhat unfortunate of late. While rarely looking out of form, this was only his second half-century since September 2005 and there was a suspicion after the first innings of this match that it may be Powell’s final championship game for Warwickshire.
It may still prove to be so. But if that is the case, what a fitting way to go. After a sticky start he produced some sparkling shots, helping the side he has served so loyally to the victory that leaves them favourites for promotion.
It wouldn’t be Warwickshire if they did things the easy way, though. There were only 27 deliveries remaining when Jim Troughton slog-swept the second six in three balls over mid-wicket and several times on the final day Glamorgan seemed to be edging towards safety.
The day started well enough. Warwickshire claimed four wickets for 24 runs in ten overs after Woakes and Anyon took the new ball. Anyon, finding menacing lift, accounted for Ryan Watkins, fending to slip, while Woakes scarcely bowled a poor ball (he delivered seven maidens in a row at one stage) and thoroughly justified the faith the club have shown in him.
Gillespie (76 balls, ten fours) and Robert Croft made Warwickshire work hard, however. The pair combined to add 76 for ninth wicket in 22 overs, with Gillespie making his first half-century for the club, and seemed to be within an hour or so of making the game safe.
Finally Gillespie was drawn into driving at an outswinger and Croft mis-cued his cut shot to mid-off to leave Warwickshire needed 183 to win in 50 overs.
Though Navdeep Poonia played all around a straight one, Powell and Ian Westwood calmed the nerves with a stand of 73 in 18 overs.
Westwood (93 balls, four fours) also had an excellent game. Warwickshire’s stand-in captain scored 234 runs in the game and saw off a decent spell from a Gillespie who is generally a shadow of the fast bowler he used to be.
But it was Powell who caught the eye. At one stage he clipped three fours in an over through mid-wicket off David Harrison, while the shot of the day came when he stepped back and crashed Gillespie through the covers. It was welcome acceleration, for there were times when Warwickshire seemed to become becalmed against Croft’s off-spin, and Westwood’s dismissal, sweeping against the spin, betrayed just a hint of anxiety.
Powell’s departure, caught on the boundary as he tried to up the tempo, precipitated a minor collapse. Three wickets fell for eight runs as Trott late cut into the hands of slip and Frost played on off his glove. But Troughton’s calm head sealed and broad bat sealed the win with maximum bonus points. Glamorgan may not be the strongest side in the league, but this was a job well done and another tangible sign of the gradual progress the club is making.
Meanwhile, Chris Martin will this morning fly to Paris. Not for him a trip up the Eiffel Tower or a tour of the galleries, however. He is flying out of the UK purely so he can fly back in and thereby fulfil the somewhat bewildering requirements of the Home Office in order to validate the work permit he has now been granted.
As a result the club are now confident that he will play in their opening Twenty20 Cup match here tomorrow.
Richard Johnson is out of action for a couple of weeks, however. An X-ray of the young keeper’s thumb showed a think crack. There was better news of Boyd Rankin, however. The Irish fast bowler is progressing well after his shoulder operation and could be back in action in August.
* A few tickets are still left for the ‘Celebrity Waiters’ evening at Simpsons on Monday, June 16. The event, hosted by Jonathan Agnew, is a benefit function for Warwickshire’s Michael Powell and Yorkshire’s Matthew Hoggard and will feature the likes of Allan Donald, Ashley Giles, Ian Bell, Tim Ambrose and Graeme Swann as the waiters. Call 07769 880 888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets. Donations of £100 per person are anticipated.