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Jon Culley at Edgbaston
September 20, 2013
Warwickshire 120 for 0 dec (Chopra 69*) and 281 for 4 (Javid 119*, Woakes 79*) beat Surrey 400 for 5 dec (Solanki 162, Davies 103, Amla 77) and forfeit by six wickets
Surrey went down tamely in the end, their optimistic plan to take 10 Warwickshire wickets in less time that it took to concede 281 runs falling a long way short as Ateeq Javid and Chris Woakes built a magnificent partnership that saw the home side's requirement met with more than 25 overs to spare of the final day.
Javid, a neat right-handed batsman of only 21 years who has come into his own in the second half of the season, played superbly, applying himself with considerable patience and diligence on the third evening, with his side 19 for 2, and again as the final day unfolded and Surrey momentarily glimpsed a chance when they removed Laurie Evans and Rikki Clarke in the morning session.
Evans threw his wicket away by chasing a wide long-hop from Stuart Meaker and Clarke deflected a drive on to his own stumps, at which point Warwickshire were still 155 from their target, a point at which another wicket or two might have had them looking at their long tail and getting jittery.
But Javid never wobbled for a moment, and once Woakes was settled and timing his shots confidently the scoreboard was seldom static and Surrey's morale steadily weakened. The pitch offered nothing that the spinners, Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari, could use to much effect, and the threat posed by the quicker men was never more than fleeting. Chris Tremlett, who has ended doubts over his future by signing a one-year extension to his contract, did not look like a bowler champing at the bit, even with an Ashes squad due to be announced.
Thus ended a grim year, the second in a row, for Surrey, who reached the final of the FLt20 but saw little else for their investment in a squad that has, at different times, seen Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen and Hashim Amla pulling on a Surrey sweater.
The departure through injury in May of South Africa captain Smith, who had been hired to bring order and purpose to a dressing room still feeling the pain left by the Tom Maynard tragedy, was a severe blow, effectively requiring the plans for the season to be redrawn. Within a few weeks came the sacking of team director, Chris Adams, but Alec Stewart, the executive director who has been in temporary charge since then, offered no excuses.
"We did not look like a relegation squad on paper but we don't play on paper," he said. "If you look at the lack of batting points, the lack of times we haven't bowled sides out - the win column says one and if you only win one game you are going to finish near the bottom.
"Losing Graeme Smith was a blow. You don't want to lose your leader, no side would want to lose their captain, no one would want to lose someone of the calibre of Graeme Smith. He had only been there three games or so but had a huge impact, not just as a batsman -- we knew he was a fine player, a fine leader - it was the impact he had on the dressing room.
"But that's not an excuse. We lost him. Other sides lose players, other sides lose their captain for a while. We have not played well enough. You can't stand here and defend something you can't defend.
"We needed to have played better. It was not a question of one person not being here. Collectively the performances were not good enough, which is why we are sat rock bottom."
Stewart accepted that there would be some supporters of other teams who would revel in Surrey's demise, burdened as they are with the label of county cricket's fat cats. He questioned whether it was entirely fair but took it is as inevitable.
"There are plenty of people out there who will be pleased to see us go down," he said. "We are looked upon as a big club, we have been tagged as this cheque-book county. But people forget there is a salary cap.
"There is expectation of Surrey but who brings that expectation? Is it from within Surrey, or from outside of Surrey because it is a Test match ground, because it is London, because as a club it makes a lot of money, with the Test match revenues, the T20 revenues and the way they market the club? That's maybe a reason. There is the history as well.
"You have to look at the here and now and the immediate future, and the future is to make sure we have good people, who can improve as individuals, and good people at the top who can help nurture those younger players through.
"For us now it is about how you plan for one to five years, so that you don't come up and go down again, and stay strong for a length of time.
"I don't want to stay in Division Two for longer than one year but when you do get promoted you want to make sure the foundations are there so that you can stay in the first division and then challenge at the top end rather than trying to survive at the bottom end."
Permanent replacements for Adams and first-team coach Ian Salisbury will be announced in the coming weeks, Stewart said. "We are getting closer, but there was never any rush. Stuart Barnes in the head coach role has been outstanding, with his work ethic and his attention to detail, and David Thorpe, our team analyst who has been involved with our academy, has stepped up well.
"They have done all they can, the players have done all they can in their work ethic. That has not been transferred to the middle, with bat and ball."
The future, meanwhile, looks brighter for Warwickshire. Failing to defend their title has been a disappointment, but an understandable one given terrible luck with injuries, a headache that has not yet lifted after Jamie Atkinson broke a thumb, giving them another problem over who keeps wicket.
Yet Javid and Woakes, both former players with the inner-city Aston Manor club, have given them the chance to finish their season in the top three for the third year running, should they condemn another team to relegation with a win at Derby next week.
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