Warwickshire beat Gloucestershire by an innings and 47 runs to seal a two-day win after very impressive displays with both bat and ball by the hosts. They remain top of Division Two, as the Bears search for silverware and promotion.
Warwickshire started the day with confidence after bowling Gloucestershire out for 127 where Chris Wright starred with the ball after taking 5 – 32, with Gloucestershire collapsing and losing 8 wickets for 26 runs. Bell and Rhodes walked out to the crease with Warwickshire on 171/2, as Rhodes scored his second century of the season, resuming on 101*.
The hosts did find themselves in some trouble after losing the two early wickets of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott in the fourth over of the day leaving them on 184/4. Bell went for 2 when bowled by Craig Miles, then Miles collected his second wicket of that over when Trott drived at a ball and was caught behind for four, as Warwickshire lost four wickets for 21 runs after being 161-0.
Sam Hain then joined Will Rhodes at the crease and, after looking comfortable at the crease with a convinced start, he departed for 25 when he drove at a ball from Liddle, which was another set back for Warwickshire as both seemed to be steadying the ship with a partnership off 48. However, Warwickshire still continued to look in a very strong position, extending their lead.
The morning session was put in Gloucestershire’s favour, when Tim Ambrose went for three off Miles’ bowling leaving Warwickshire on 236/6, as Miles continued a stellar morning, with figures of 3 – 22 of his first six overs.
Rhodes had watched wickets fall at regular intervals from the other end throughout the morning, whilst he pursued the task of enlarging Warwickshire’s lead after the dominant start in the previous days play. However he departed for 136 when he was bowled by Drissell which was his first-class best, and clearly a highly important contribution to Warwickshire’s innings and the lead.
Warwickshire’s innings then came to an end when Miles picked up two wickets in two balls after getting the wickets of Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Keith Barker, achieving five wickets in the innings – 5-69 off 17.3 overs. Warwickshire were all out for 277, which would look a slightly disappointing score after the strong position they were in at the start of the day, however they went into the third innings having a healthy lead of 150.
After a short rain delay, Ryan Sidebottom struck in his first over, when Miles Hammond was caught superbly by Hain for 9, leaving Gloucestershire on 10-1.
They then faced another setback in the daunting challenge when Sidebottom struck again, taking his second wicket, this time Chris Dent edged to Dom Sibley for 16.
Trouble continued for Gloucestershire, as Barker took two wickets in three balls, leaving Gloucestershire four down for 27. He had James Bracey caught behind for 1, then bowled Gareth Roderick for 0 with stumps cartwheeling everywhere to put Warwickshire very much in the driving seat in the game.
Another wicket from Sidebottom, this time it was Ryan Higgins who feathered one behind, got Warwickshire three wickets in seven balls.
A wicket for Hannon-Dalby haltered the fightback from Gloucestershire when Ben Charlesworth was caught at slip for five, which put them six down and Warwickshire in a commanding position in the game.
Benny Howell, who was bowled by Wright for 32 was the only batsmen to show any fight or resilience to the excellent bowling by Warwickshire but after his departure, with Gloucestershire seven down for 67, victory for Warwickshire was looking imminent.
Gloucestershire’s struggles continued after the interval, as Sidebottom bowls Miles for nine, which all but sealed victory for Warwickshire as they needed just two wickets with Gloucestershire still trailing by 63. Wright then got the ninth wicket as he picks up the wicket of Matt Taylor who went for one.
There was a fightback shown in the 10th-wicket partnership between George Drissell and Chris Liddle, who stopped Warwickshire in their tracks for a short while. However, Rhodes got the wicket off Drissell for 19 which wrapped up victory for Warwickshire, having bowled Gloucestershire out for 103.
It was a brilliant two-day victory by Warwickshire, who continue their presence at the top of Division Two as they won by an innings and 47 runs.
Wright can take a whole lot of credit from the game after setting it up beautifully with his five-fer, a great start to his sign-off with Warwickshire.
Rhodes also showed his class with his second century of the season, putting Warwickshire in a strong position giving them a strong lead which was, ultimately, too much for Gloucestershire.