Maddy gives Warwickshire hope

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Darren Maddy

Warwickshire's batting has malfunctioned this season, but Darren Maddy held them together with fifty to see them home

Warwickshire boosted their chances of staying in the top flight of the LV= County Championship as Darren Maddy’s unbeaten half-century completed a seven-wicket win over relegation rivals Essex at Edgbaston.

Set 153 to win in a tense, low-scoring Division One contest, they dumped Essex to the bottom of the table with only one game to play and moved alongside Kent on 123 points, their opponents in another crucial fixture in Birmingham next week.

Although Essex reached the highest score of the match before they were dismissed for 193 in their second innings, they did not have enough runs in the bank to avoid their second defeat by Warwickshire this month.

In a big improvement on recent batting performances, the home side seized the initiative when Ian Westwood and Varun Chopra put on 62, their second-highest opening partnership of the season.

Westwood played positively, hitting eight fours before he was lbw attempting to sweep Danish Kaneria’s fourth ball, and Chopra’s determined innings against his former county ended with a bat-pad catch to short-leg off David Masters.

Jim Troughton, playing across the line, became another victim for Masters, but Maddy, with four consecutive boundaries off Tony Palladino, accelerated to his second fifty of the season in an unbroken stand of 47 with Rikki Clarke.

Clarke’s winning boundary off Maurice Chambers gave freakish symmetry to the two victories over Essex. In both matches Warwickshire made 155 and 155 for three.

With this game on a knife-edge on the final morning, the bowlers did their job by cleaning up Essex’s last seven wickets for 94.

Given an early bonus when Chopra’s throw from mid-off ran out Matt Walker for 38, they stepped up the pressure when James Foster was lbw to Chris Woakes after hitting a couple of boundaries.

With half the side gone for 120, the visitors’ lead was only 79 but Warwickshire had to find a way of covering for the absence of Boyd Rankin following his five-wicket return in the first innings.

With the Ireland fast bowler awaiting a scan on a suspected metatarsal injury, Clarke stepped into his role with an aggressive spell in which he exploited variations in bounce on the fourth-day surface.

Taking 3-10 in six overs, he rattled the off stump twice in 10 balls when removing Ryan ten Doeschate and Mark Pettini for 35, and had Masters caught at first slip for a useful 18.

Palladino registered his second duck of the match when bowled by Maddy and Kaneria was last out, bowled by Neil Carter, after carving a six over point in Imran Tahir’s only over of the match.

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