Patel's blows take Warwickshire to victory
Warwickshire 243 and 262 for 8 (Porterfield 84, Patel 43*, Trego 4-37) beat Somerset 147 and 354 by 2 wickets Scorecard
In a game overflowing with twists and turns, Jeetan Patel landed the decisive blow to see Warwickshire to a tense victory over Somerset. Patel, coming to the crease with his side requiring 52 for victory and only two wickets in hand, thrashed 43 in 36 balls to settle a match which had veered from one side to the other throughout an intriguing three-and-a-half days.
No-one had more reason to be grateful for Patel's intervention than Jim Troughton. The Warwickshire captain, who played his part in a match-clinching 55-run stand with Patel, had dropped a simple chance on the third day that had allowed Somerset back into the game. Jos Buttler was on seven and had added just 12 with Nick Compton when Troughton missed an easy chance at mid-off. Buttler went on to score 93 and extend Somerset's sixth-wicket partnership to 167.
Troughton admitted that he had not been able to eat or sleep since the miss. He said that the pressures of captaincy had clouded his mind and described the feeling as dropping such important catches as "the worst thing in cricket.
"We were in a great position at the time so, when we batted, it was the reason I wasn't going to let this one go. I told the guys 'this one is on me.'"
The final twist came when Marcus Trescothick introduced the spin of teenager George Dockrell into the attack with three overs to go before the new ball and 16 required by Warwickshire. It was a gamble that backfired as Patel, the New Zealand spinner, thrashed a six and two fours from the first three balls, before levelling the scores with a single from the next. With Troughton forcing the next delivery for four through the covers, Dockrell's five balls had cost 19.
It was not Dockrell's fault. Patel took a chance and it paid off. More senior bowlers - the likes of Peter Trego and Vernon Philander - had received equally rough treatment with Patel giving himself room to thump the former over long-on and the latter over third man for sixes. Not for the first time in recent years, victory was snatched from Somerset's grasp.
Warwickshire should have won far more comfortably. Midway through the morning, with seven wickets in hand and only 69 more runs required, it appeared they were cruising.
Inexplicably, however, they lost five wickets for 17 runs in 47 balls with a succession of batsmen wilting under pressure. Though Ian Westwood left a straight one and Keith Barker, having been hit on the head by Trego's bouncer, trod on his own stumps, none was more culpable than William Porterfield. The Irishman tarnished his excellent innings with an attempted slog across the line that Shahid Afridi might have thought twice about in the last over of a benefit match.
Barker can surely expect a bouncer barrage every time he walks to the crease in future. Suffice to say, he played Trego - admittedly a fired-up Trego, bowling with more pace than usual - as if he were Allan Donald at the WACA. At one stage Trego took four wickets while conceding four runs, with only two of those coming from the bat.
Still, Warwickshire clung on for an immensely encouraging win. Missing four of their top players - Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott are being rested following England duty, and Boyd Rankin and Chris Woakes are both injured - they demonstrated they have the squad depth to challenge throughout the season. They should grow stronger. Bell returns ahead of the Championship game against Lancashire in Liverpool later this week, while Woakes is recovering ahead of schedule. What is more in Chris Wright they have a much-improved seamer who one umpire and a couple of players are beginning to talk of as one of the quickest bowlers in the county game.
County cricket will always have its detractors. But there should be no doubting the entertainment on offer or the intensity of the competition. And the quality? Well, all four of the key protagonists involved at the end of this game - the two batsmen and the two bowlers - are cricketers with international experience, including the man who has just set a record as the fastest to 50 Test wickets. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo