Troughton proud of Bears display
Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton paid tribute to a “fantastic team effort” after his side moved ever closer to the LV= County Championship title on a thrilling third day against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.
Troughton’s men, who led Lancashire by three points heading into the final round of fixtures, looked to have a stiff task on their hands in carving out a winning position when their hosts resumed this morning on 57 without loss, trailing by 436, on a true surface.
Opener Liam Dawson went on to provide a stubborn barrier with a cultured unbeaten 152, but Warwickshire were still able to enforce the follow-on by dismissing Hampshire for 324.
The visitors then picked up a further three wickets in the 18 overs that remained and now appear in pole position to claim the crown they last won in 2004, despite Lancashire’s impressive efforts on day three at Taunton.
At stumps, Troughton told ecb.co.uk: “We started thinking 20 wickets was going to be quite a big task, but, with the way we stuck at it today, I’m very proud.
“All my bowlers have kept running in on a wicket that’s pretty batsman-friendly. To get 13 wickets in the day and to get in the position we are is a fantastic team effort.”
With Dawson carrying his bat and receiving handy support from various avenues, particularly the lower-order duo of Chris Wood and Danny Briggs, Warwickshire appeared to have lost their impetus at several junctures, only to continually find a wicket when it was most needed.
“That’s what makes it a special day, in terms of the effort we put in,” added Troughton.
“It was a great batting display by Dawson and he was assisted at times. There were partnerships developing and we just managed to break those partnerships at crucial times.”
Wood and Briggs batted positively in a bid to maintain their side’s hopes of reaching 400 and keeping their slender survival hopes alive.
At one stage, Hampshire were just 21 runs away from their follow-on target with two wickets still in hand, but Briggs was then run out and last man James Tomlinson swiftly followed for a duck.
Troughton continued: “They got a little bit close to that follow-on target, so it was getting nerve-jangling, we were thinking ‘could that be our last chance of forcing a victory?’
“To get that wicket then, I think it knocked the stuffing out of them and that allowed us then to get the three wickets in the evening.”
Although Warwickshire’s bowlers shared the wickets around today, Chris Metters finished as the pick of the attack with five scalps in all, including two in the space of three balls in Hampshire's second innings.
The left-arm spinner only turned 21 two days ago, but held his nerve to make a series of vital breakthroughs.
“It was a fantastic effort from a young lad, 21 years old, in the biggest game of the season,” said Warwickshire’s captain. “He showed great composure and he deservedly got his wickets.”
Troughton was prepared to admit his side had been guilty of paying too much attention to events elsewhere yesterday, as Lancashire moved into the driving seat against Somerset.
With their fate now entirely in their own hands – a win tomorrow will ensure Warwickshire are crowned champions – the 32-year-old is determined to ensure his side are fully focussed when play resumes.
“At this very moment I don’t even know what the score is at Taunton,” he explained, moments after play had finished.
“Once we got that second (bowling) bonus point, which meant if we got the same result, we would be winning, then we knew it was just a case of us doing the business or Somerset helping us out.
“That helped us a little bit to just focus on that and now, for me, it’s irrelevant what goes on at Taunton. It’s all about getting seven wickets here as cheaply as possible.
“I can’t give more credit to the bowlers for what they have achieved this season so far and it’s just one more day of leaving it all on the pitch.
“I said after that first session: ‘If we put five more sessions in like that and don’t win the championship we can hold our heads up and say we gave it everything.’
“For three sessions today, we did exactly that and got our rewards. We have just asked the guys to do that again tomorrow.”
Having been part of the side that won the County Championship seven years ago, Troughton is understandably excited about potentially leading Warwickshire to glory this time around.
“I’m sure you can appreciate I don’t want to think too far ahead, but it would be a fantastic effort,” he concluded.
“It would top off an incredible season for us. But for now it’s just a case of keeping a lid on that and focussing on what we need to do.”