Warwickshire v Durham, Edgbaston, 4th day April 20, 2013

Wright's best gets Warwickshire moving


Warwickshire 345 (Troughton 84) and 351 (Ambrose 105, Clarke 92) beat Durham 284 (Borthwick 101) and 94 (Wright 6-31) by 318 runs

It has taken Chris Wright a while to find his feet in professional cricket. He was overlooked by three counties and even went to Sri Lanka to get a game. But he has clicked at Edgbaston. He took his best figures for the county as they steamrollered Durham on the final day.

Warwickshire got their title defence up and running by demolishing Durham with 46 overs to spare on the final day. Wright, having taken the one wicket to fall before the close on Friday, followed up with a morning spell of 3 for 10 and finished with 6 for 31 - his best performance for the county.

Hampshire, Middlesex and Essex all got a good look at Wright and will wonder why the skills that increasingly encourage talk that he is an England bowler-in-waiting never previously surfaced.

He nearly did not get his chance at Warwickshire either. Graeme Welch had to lobby Ashley Giles extensively to get him to take Wright on loan during 2011 but Giles was grateful for Welch's insight.

Wright's bowling inspired Warwickshire to glory almost immediately. His first three appearances included two five-wicket hauls and 22 wickets at 24.31 nearly won the Championship in 2011. 62 scalps at 24.06 last year saw Warwickshire romp away with the pennant. Only poor weather prevented their coronation earlier than the penultimate match of last season.

It is hard to make a case against them winning consecutive titles. The bowling attack is unmatched and the batting has enough runs in it, particularly the lower order, to allow the unrelenting foursome of Wright, Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke and Chris Woakes, plus the spin of Jeetan Patel, to win matches.

Warwickshire underlined that, given a full match, they will outlast most teams. Durham competed very well for two-and-a-half days but eventually fell away like a tired jet skier, falling to their heaviest runs defeat against Warwickshire. Phil Mustard's 28 in 140 minutes was as stubborn as they got until he was last out, carving Chris Woakes to point. Paul Collingwood clung on for an hour for 5.

The result in no way reflects the situation on the third morning where Durham got on top. That moment and their defeat of Somerset in the opening round will be give confidence that they will survive comfortably. But their batting is not good enough to finish any higher than mid-table. In 16 innings this season the first four Durham batsmen have scored 99 runs and mustered only three double-figure scores between them.

Their top three is especially vulnerable. Mark Stoneman and Will Smith are both experienced players with average-to-poor returns. Smith is on an especially poor run. His last 13 innings in the Championship have yielded 74 runs. He was picked this season only on the strength of a century against Durham MCCU in the first match of the year.

Twenty-year-old Keaton Jennings is also in that top three. All of them fell to Barker in the first innings and all were claimed by Wright in the second innings. They were not the first and won't be the last to succumb to highly accurate seam bowling that swung a little.

It swung more as the match went on and the wind calmed. Wright said both teams struggled in the strong gusts of the first two days. But the Durham attack - most notably Ben Stokes - found some reverse-swing on the third afternoon and that was a precursor to Warwickshire finding some deadly movement on day four.

"The fact that we were moving it both ways made it a lot harder for them," Wright said in sympathy for the Durham batsman who were rolled for their lowest total against Warwickshire. "Moving the ball around in the air is something this team has been particularly good at."

Wright enjoyed a winter in India working with England bowling coach Kevin Shine. He developed a delivery that shapes away from the left-hander - a skill that has been extremely beneficial for James Anderson - that was evident in the first dismissal of the day. Stoneman followed a back of a length ball that left him slightly and edged behind.

But new deliveries or not, Wright felt the full force of flat Australian wickets after Christmas with just four wickets at 49.00 as England went winless on the seven-match List A tour. It was a chastening experience but Wright is used to some low points in his career.

"More than anything it was good to be exposed to the conditions, the flatter wickets, and to be involved in the England set up," Wright said. "But you did need to keep your chin up."

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mark on April 23, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    @JG2704 That's my point. You cannot characterise a player with a single number because statistics just don't work that way. Averages are a guide, not an absolute truth. Anyway, a captain needs to have both kind of player in his side.

    The one obvious example of a player who averaged 60 and was consistent was Bradman. He is the only player ever to have a *MEDIAN* score of over 50. His median is 56.5, which meant that he hit 50+ in more than half of all his Test innings. Even he had 7 ducks and was dismissed 14 times in single figures in 81 innings. However, he was never dismissed in the 90s or 190s and was dismissed only 11 times for under a century once he had passed 50, out of a total of 42 scores of 50 or greater.

  • John on April 23, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    @CS - I'd like someone who averages 60 with consistent scoring. I think you need a combo of both but I like a player who is scoring the big runs when they're needed - not someone who maybe comes in and scores easy runs on flatter pitches after other batsmen have worn the fielders out.

  • Mark on April 23, 2013, 7:13 GMT

    @JG2704 Not outs have their uses. The "average" that we calculate is runs between dismissals, not runs per innings. It depends how you want to characterise a batsman's performance. If everyone has 10% of not outs, they affect the statistics not a jot in reality. However, when you have someone with 30% of not outs you can say that his numbers give a false impression.

    Part of the problem is the fact that people confuse average with expectation of runs. The typical case is your batsman who scores 0 0 100 0 200* 0, that's 300 runs at an average of 60 but, does that 60 have a meaning when he has failed to score in 4 of his 6 innings? Would you like a player like that (KP-type), or one who scores 30, 50, 35, 45, 20, 60? That's 240 runs at an average of 40 (Shane Watson-type) - fewer runs, but a guarantee of a contribution every innings. One offers you an expectation of 40 runs each innings, the other offers you occasional match-winning innings, with very little in between.

  • John on April 22, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (April 22, 2013, 12:20 GMT) Not sure where I stand with not outs etc. Part of me thinks the further down the order you are the harder it is but I guess it depends on the situations you come in to. Personally - and I've said this before - I think Swann is a better batsman than Broad despite the stats and despite him being not out more times than Broad. My thoughts are that Swann often comes in and has to bat with guys like Jimmy, Finn and Monty more than Broad. Re Woakes - what I have noticed about him is that in 2012 he was often coming in - be it with Clarke or Barker etc - and did a repair job. Didn't notice so many times when he'd come in and make easier runs against tired bowlers etc . He was often coming in against an on top bowling side

  • Mark on April 22, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    @SamuelH 28 not outs from 100 innings - exactly 28%. It's high, but not an outlandish fraction. Maybe you would want to temper his average somewhat. I see that Stuart Broad - England's #8 - has 9 not outs from 75 innings in Tests (12%). Graeme Swann at #9 has 10 out of 60 (17%). However, the fact that he does end up not out so often is (a) a reflection of his batting ability and (b) a hint that he is batting too low!

    Incidentally, I have argued long that the median score, ignoring not outs, is a better metric of the expectation score for a batsman when he bats (it is how many runs minimum he will get in 50% of innings). Alternatively, you look at the average without not outs: it's great ending the season with an average of 25 because you bat at #11 and are only out 3 times in 15 innings, but your expectation score would be 5 runs per innings (and the median score probably 2 or 3 runs lower), suggesting thatbatting at #11 is about right!

  • Samuel on April 21, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    @Mitty - you can quantify the average a bit by saying he comes in at 8 for Warwickshire & ends with a lot of not outs. Not sure England should be pitching him in at 6 or 7 in a Test match if he only bats at 8 for his county, but then again, perhaps Warks need to realise he should be batting higher up. Certainly looks to have the technique & temperament to do well. His bowling is a bit more of an uncertainty, but as you say, his figures certainly warrant a chance.

    Once Bell & Trott come in next week the Bears have a truly formidable side (just in time to play us - just our luck!), as it eliminates their one real weakness - the top order. Interesting to note that it is Bell who bats 3 & Trott 4, but in the Tests v NZ it's likely to be the other way round! With Wright, I am increasingly convinced we are watching an England bowler in waiting. He'll likely be in the squad for the May tests, and with Finn struggling for consistency & Broad needing management, he may well get a game.

  • Carl on April 21, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    A good win for Warwicks, they just need to have a more consistant top order and they'd walk it this year but when you've got such a deep batting line up it can cover for the majority of upper order failures.

    Barker needs to keep progressing, think another season in the County game to see if he has a chance of becoming an international player. Maybe a few ODI's and an A-tour next winter.

    Woakes should have played in NZ, it was the ideal chance to give him a go. I still think England should put Woakes in at 7 and move Prior to 6. With Broad and Swann at 8&9 that is still a respectable tail. It's not as if there is a mass of players who are knocking on the door to bat at 6 plus with flat pitches around the world an extra bowler would be useful.

  • Robert on April 21, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Keith Barker may not be in the reckoning yet but he is fairly new to FC cricket. I think he was a stand in for Chris Woakes at the start of last season and then performed extremely well. If he keeps it up this season (he has made a good start) he must come into the England reckoning in one form or another; his batting is useful...maybe when he is confident about his bowling he can work on it a bit more.

  • Hamish on April 21, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    @landl47 he has some pretty amazing stats. With a higher batting average than Joe root (FC) and a better bowling average (FC) than any other contenders excluding Roland jones... If that doesn't warrant selection I don't know what does.

    Although I did watch some of the ODI's and I'm not sure his average speed was 136, I thought it was more 130-135

  • John on April 21, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    @Meety/CS/Landl - You all know how I would go and for that formation either the 5th bowler has to add a huge amount with the ball or a significant amount with the bat. Ok he averages nearly 40 (with bat) which isn't that great but surely how he's done over the last year is more relevant than the overall career average , no? Had a debate with another fan (non English) and he was saying Woakes would look silly vs Aus.That could happen but unless he's been watching Warwicks for a while he is surely judging Woakes temperament and technique by a few ODIs.I know I'm judging him blind but surely the stats tell enough.More than a few ODIs With no KP we have no attacking batsman in the top 5 so our only tact is to score big and grind out results and our bowlers aren't firing like they were 18 months ago either so it makes forcing results even more unlikely. I know they won't but there are no reasons why we don't try 5/1/5 now - unless of course someone can give me a reason.

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