At the end of a pulsating final day, Durham clung on for a gritty draw which has dented Warwickshire’s title hopes.
Warwickshire resumed the match on 28/1, after a weather affected third day halted proceedings for the hosts, suspending their chances to press for victory. At the start of the day they lead by 46 runs with Ian Bell and Dominic Sibley at the crease after the wicket of Will Rhodes fell before lunch, after Warwickshire bowled Durham out for 292.
Warwickshire would have been looking for a win, as their closest competitors for promotion, Kent and Sussex both secured victories against Northamptonshire and Leicestershire respectively.
Warwickshire, therefore, would have hoped to play in a positive manner, scoring quickly to try and extend their lead in order to secure a win to keep promotion a firm sight.
However, Durham put a stop to Warwickshire’s search for quick runs by bowling tightly as they then reaped the rewards as Warwickshire lost three wickets in six overs to subside to 68/4.
Firstly, Bell was removed by Axar Patel’s first ball of the morning for 10, caught by Graham Clark. Next, Sibley was bowled by Patel to get his second wicket of the morning for 27, bringing Sam Hain to the crease. Jonathan Trott was the next man out, as he edged one behind to Paul Collingwood at first slip off the bowling of Barry McCarthy.
Warwickshire, looking to extend their lead were stopped in their tracks.
It was Warwickshire veteran Tim Ambrose and the exciting talent Hain who stood up for the hosts, guiding Warwickshire from a disappointing 68/4 to 157/4 and taking the lead to 175 at that point. They put on an incredibly valuable partnership off 89 off 202 balls after Ambrose survived two chances as he was dropped firstly by Collingwood on ten, then by Lees on 15, but unfortunately the important partnership came to end when Ambrose was trapped LBW by Patel for 42.
Durham may have discovered a chance for victory, with thanks to restrictive bowling from McCarthy & Patel, with Warwickshire losing 5 wickets in just 9 overs. Keith Barker was out when he was clean bowled for 5 by McCarthy.
Patel continued his fine bowling, being the star for the hosts as he picked up the wickets off Jeetan Patel, Chris Wright, Olly Stone and Ryan Sidebottom to finish off the Warwickshire innings, with them all out on 199, to give him a seven wicket haul, bowling 27.4 overs and leaking through just 53 runs.
This left Durham with a target of 218 to win the game, with 41 overs left in the day – a target that, if they could score at a brisk pace, could possibly be in their sights.
Although throughout the fall of wickets, Hain continued to dig in and battle through, as he reached 58* not out off 114 balls to show he does have the skill to be a class batsmen in red ball cricket as well as limited over cricket.
Durham’s chase started as Barker trapped Lees LBW, as he went without scoring in his 3rd over, not the start the visitors would have hoped for. Wright then struck with his 3rd ball of his first over when Cameron Steel edged behind to Ambrose for 21.
Warwickshire bowlers did a outstanding job of restricting Durham scoring at any quick pace, as they only managed 27 runs off the first 10 overs, and took the two wickets. Stone was then brought into the attack, and struck with his third ball getting Will Smith to edge to second slip as he went for eight. This left the visitors three down with a hefty chase in front of them, in a tight time restriction of just 28 overs to get 185 runs.
Warwickshire fought their way back and tried to engineer victory as they got Durham five down. Stone picked up a further two wickets to give him ten in the match: firstly Michael Richardson trapped for LBW and Clark pulled a ball straight to Hain at deep square leg.
Durham’s troubles deepened after Patel was bowled by Barker for 22, as he and Collingwood tried to halt Warwickshire with hosts needing 4 wickets in 13 overs. Collingwood fell not long after, as he was caught behind for 13 off Wright, giving Warwickshire a chance, as they needed 3 wickets in 8 overs.
Warwickshire looked to be bowling their way to victory when McCarthy was trapped LBW by Stone for 2, making Durham 8 down. However, just when Warwickshire thought they had it their way, Durham’s tail had other ideas when Stuart Poynter and Matt Salisbury dug in to survive and frustrate Warwickshire for 6 overs to secure a draw at the conclusion of the match.
It was a cracking game, and even better spectacle of county cricket on display. Both teams can take a lot of credit from the game, with two particular stand out performances from Stone who took 10 wickets in the match, giving him 30 wickets in 40 championship games. Also, Axar Patel who took seven wickets in Warwickshire’s second innings to restrict Warwickshire, and give Durham a total they may have had a chance to chase if they had scored more rapidly.
Warwickshire continue their reign in the top spot in Division Two as they sit on 183 points, seven points clear of Kent and 12 clear of Sussex, where as Durham are in 8th on 102 points.