Near miss proving spur for Warwickshire
Warwickshire 247 and 222 for 5 (Ambrose 89*, Porterfield 66, Batty 4-69) beat Surrey 223 and 245 (Roy 71, Patel 6-95) by 5 wickets
Jim Troughton, the Warwickshire captain, has said that the pain of being pipped to the Championship last year is providing the drive behind his side's impressive start to the 2012 campaign, which continued with a five-wicket victory over Surrey that took only 32 minutes of the final morning to wrap up.
Tim Ambrose finished unbeaten on 89 with his partner Rikki Clarke 40 not out as Warwickshire completed their recovery from 37 for 4 to win comfortably after Surrey failed to find the early wickets they needed.
"After getting so close but not winning last year I think the pain has been in everyone's mind through the winter and we have used that memory to make sure that when we have got into good positions in games we have nailed it," Troughton said.
"We have not necessarily had things all our own way in the games so far and we have fought back from difficult periods as well as being ruthless when we have been on top. I think that is the key in four-day cricket. To win tight games creates that belief that you can win from anywhere. Gareth Batty bowled very well and, after we were 30-odd for 4, Surrey and their supporters probably thought it would be done and dusted in three days.
Troughton applauded his seam bowlers for filling the gaps created by early-season injuries to Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin and said his batsman are dismantling the notion that without Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, or overseas assistance from the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Mohammad Yousuf, both of whom contributed to their success last year, they are lightweights.
"Chanderpaul and Yousuf were a big factor last year but we have a batting line-up that is maturing with the likes of Porterfield and Varun Chopra and there is experience in the mix and someone has always put their hand up at crucial times," he said. "The only one not to do that has been me."
Referring to his own current lean streak, which has seen him score only 50 runs in nine Championship innings so far with a second-innings duck in this match, Troughton said he did not doubt his form would return.
"Guys like Bell and Trott have told me that as long as you don't start chasing your tail, as long as you keep doing the things that have brought you runs in the past, you will turn it round. I'm lucky that the boys have picked up the slack but as long as I remain positive and keep working in the nets I'm sure that a big performance when the guys need me will come out."
As much as Ambrose and Porterfield were the match-winners with the bat, Jeetan Patel's 6 for 95 was a significant influence on the outcome as Surrey, who had been under par in the first innings, improved in the second but still were restricted to 245 on a good batting surface.
Patel was outshone as an individual by his fellow offspinner, Gareth Batty, who finished with 10 wickets in a match for only the second time in his career but admitted he would have swapped his figures for a win.
"The stats say I had a good match but while I want to do my job for the team I would have taken none for 300 if we had taken 20-odd points from the match," he said.
"The game was made difficult on day one for us when we played poorly in all facets. When you come back well to get back in the game but lose it on the final day it is easy to identify where we fell down."
"If we had opened with four maidens and maybe taken a wicket we would have had one end open and it could have been very exciting but once they got one or two away the challenge was always going to be easier for them."
Three fours from Clarke, a former Surrey allrounder, of course, in the same Stuart Meaker over tipped the balance decisively Warwickshire's way, probably denying Ambrose the opportunity for a century into the bargain.