Drop beckons after Derbyshire collapse
Derbyshire 44 for 5 (Barker 3-21) trail Warwickshire 391 for 9 dec (Woakes 152*, Chambers 58, Groenewald 4-92) by 347 runs
The corpse is still twitching but realistically Derbyshire's Division One life is over for the moment. They needed to win this match, which is not going to happen; they also need to do so, as things stand, with more batting points than Somerset, a similarly unlikely scenario. They will be lucky if they manage one, in which case everything else will be academic.
Karl Krikken, their head coach, spoke as positively as he could in the circumstances, vowing to fight on. But he is as aware as anyone that for an inexperienced squad beaten seven times in their first 10 matches a full recovery was always a tall order. To go into the last round of games not already doomed was some kind of achievement.
"In these last six games we have played some good cricket," he said. "In the first half of the season we did not know where a win was coming from but since then we have picked up three wins, which I felt might be enough. If we do go down, Nottinghamshire will stay up with not as many wins as us, and we'll have the same as Somerset.
"You look back, and if we had held our catches in the Surrey game, which we more or less threw away, we would have gone into this game in front, or at least level. But you have to take those chances.
"We had chances in this game but we let them off the hook when they were 120 for 6 and we let them off the hook again by allowing the ninth wicket pair to add so many.
"Warwickshire have bowled really well on a wicket that is helpful but there is still hope while the little maestro is still there and we will turn up tomorrow and fight, as Derbyshire sides always do."
Yet in truth it will take something exceptional, with some exceptional support, from Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the little maestro in question, to haul Derbyshire anywhere near contention from 44 for 5. Warwickshire may have given up the title but have their eyes on third place in the table after a late-season recovery.
With Keith Barker and Maurice Chambers exploiting a swing-friendly humid afternoon to maximum effect, Derbyshire were in trouble after an over from each as they sought to build a reply to Warwickshire's 391 for 9.
They lost Ben Slater to Barker's third ball and Wayne Madsen, the captain from whom a substantial score was vital, to Chambers's fifth, which forced him back and had him caught at first slip. Barker struck again in his third over as Paul Borrington edged to gully and Chambers in his fourth, when Rikki Clarke's catch at second slip saw off Richard Johnson. The umpires signalled tea at that point, with Derbyshire 14 for 4.
Chanderpaul has 24 but Alex Hughes had gone too by the time bad light forced an early close, a third victim for Barker, the left-armer, whose absence from any of England's winter squads is almost as baffling as that of his colleague Chris Woakes. Barker, from only 11 matches, has 43 Championship wickets at 23.30.
Woakes supplied more reason to question the selectors' judgment by turning his overnight century into a career-best 152 not out, demonstrating his ability to defend for long periods in difficult conditions as well as the shot-making quality that has identified him as a batsman of high talent, regardless of what he can do with the ball.
Yet he could not have done it without some unlikely help in a partnership of 166 that set a ground record for the ninth wicket in first-class matches. Maurice Chambers, with a career average under six, whose 30 for Essex against Leicestershire in 2011 was his highest score in 49 first-class matches until this one, stayed with him for almost three-and-a-half hours after a start delayed until after lunch, in doing so reaching 58 before he attempted to boss the left-arm spinner David Wainwright and was stumped.
"Duncan Fletcher told me when he was England coach that I would never get in one of his teams if I couldn't bat and I've worked really hard on my batting in the last couple of years," Chambers said. "Some people may say it is only a 50, but for me it is everything I've been working towards. I think I can hold a bat, I don't see myself as a genuine tailender and I want to show that."
Chambers, currently on loan with Warwickshire but surplus to requirements with Essex, where he had slipped out of favour, must be tempting Warwickshire to offer him a longer deal after taking 12 wickets so far. He would not comment on what stage preliminary discussions had reached but said he would welcome the chance to stay at Edgbaston.
"I'm not 100 percent sure where I will be next year but there are a few counties interested," he said. "I'm very confident I will get a contract somewhere next year and if it were Warwickshire, why not?"