Warwickshire crowned County Champions
Warwickshire completed a two-year journey through all the emotions when receiving the LV= County Championship Division One trophy after crushing Worcestershire by an innings and 202 runs at New Road.
In 2010 they won their last three games to avoid relegation, last year they missed out on the title on the final day of the season and now they are champions for the fourth time in 18 years.
Worcestershire were in a near-hopeless position, still trailing by 311 runs on resuming at 100 for two, and in just short of two-and-a-half hours they were dismissed for 209 - and facing relegation for the fourth time in the 13 seasons of two divisions.
Moeen Ali marginally became a party-pooper with an unbeaten 72 against his former county but 25 minutes after lunch Alan Richardson was last man out - eight years after playing in Warwickshire’s last championship-winning team.
For director of cricket Ashley Giles, who admitted to a number of sleepless nights until the job was done, the victory put the seal on a second notable career double. Giles has won the Ashes as a player and England selector; now he has won the County Championship as a player and coach.
With the weather set fair, Warwickshire still had two days available to secure the win they needed to see off Sussex’s challenge, and the first hour went according to plan with three wickets for Chris Wright and Keith Barker.
The new-ball pair have taken 112 wickets between them and it was their ruthless exploitation of helpful conditions that routed Worcestershire for 60 in their first innings.
Barker was first to strike on the third morning when Daryl Mitchell, without adding to his overnight score of 42, jabbed the ball into his stumps.
It was Barker again when Alexei Kervezee was lbw for 19, aiming towards midwicket, and then it was Wright’s turn as Joe Leach lost his middle stump, playing back to a full-length ball.
Boyd Rankin, who did not bowl because the Wright-Barker monopoly on the opening day, finally appeared in the attack for the 56th over and the Irishman delivered with two wickets in quick succession.
His pace and bounce unsettling lower-order batsmen, he removed Brett D’Oliveira for 13 - his second double-figure score of the match - and Ben Cox with slip catches by Varun Chopra and Rikki Clarke.
The three wickets standing at lunch fell in half-a-dozen overs and all bowled by the impressive Wright for a match return of 9-89 and a championship medal in his first full season since leaving Essex.