Title-chasing Warwickshire run riot
Barnstorming Warwickshire moved ever closer to their first LV= County Championship title since 2004 on a day to forget for their bottom-of-the-table midlands rivals Worcestershire at New Road.
With Sussex able to take only one batting bonus point against Somerset at the PROBIZ County Ground, the Division One crown could be heading to Edgbaston this week if Warwickshire score 350 in their first innings and then win the match.
Seamers Chris Wright and Keith Barker took five wickets each as Worcestershire were routed for 60 - the lowest championship total this season - and openers Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood responded with a century partnership for the fourth time in six matches.
Warwickshire closed on 215 for two, already holding a lead of 155 after heaping further embarrassment on a side who are now staring relegation in the face.
Chopra followed his match-winning hundred in the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final against Lancashire with a fluent 115 not out from 195 balls after giving a sharp chance to slip when he had made 44.
Westwood, with 54, passed 50 for the fifth time in eight innings before off-spinner Moeen Ali took two wickets, both slip catches by Daryl Mitchell.
Worcestershire, who did not give Vikram Solanki a final home appearance before he moves to Surrey, were bowled out for their lowest championship total in 41 years.
In two hours Warwickshire secured three bowling points in a show of ruthless efficiency, which in turn questioned the home side’s decision to bat first, given the overhead conditions prior to a 10:30am start.
The ball swung, the pitch had a green tinge, and this was enough to expose the uncertainty that has plagued Worcestershire throughout the summer.
Mitchell planted his front foot and the lbw dismissal gave Wright his 50th championship wicket of the summer and Barker was the bowler when Phil Hughes slashed at a ball outside off-stump. The Australian’s wicket was the first of six to fall to catches in the slips or to the wicketkeeper.
Wright and Barker, who took 5-24 and 5-36 respectively, successfully applied pressure and there was no need for captain Jim Troughton to split them before the innings ended in the 29th over.
Brett D’Oliveira, with 18, showed some application until an edge to first slip enabled Barker to join Wright on the 50-wicket mark and Chris Russell cheered up the home crowd with a pull for six in his 15.