Barker's bite helps finish off Durham
Warwickshire 450 (Barker 102*, Westwood 88, Patel 58, Onions 5-85 ) and 63 for 2 beat Durham 185 (Collingwood 68, Jones 4-48, Barker 4-54) and 327 (Stoneman 111, Barker 5-103) by wickets
JRR Tolkien went to King Edward's School, Birmingham and one can find at least three of his former homes in close proximity to the Hagley Road. Sadly for Durham's supporters, these literary connections did not inspire Paul Collingwood's players to slay any dragons on the final day of this game. Instead they were confounded by a fearsome enemy whose thirst for north-eastern blood seems quite unquenchable.
At about 2.15pm on the last afternoon, Keith Barker had to be pushed forward to lead Warwickshire's players off the field. He waved his cap to the home supporters in the engaging, slightly bashful manner of a fifth-former who had just done terribly well in the Old Boys' game. In fact, he had just taken 5 for 103 to complete match figures of 9 for 157, this on top of his 102 not out in the first innings.
Barker had just failed to become only the third Warwickshire cricketer since 1911 to score a century and take ten wickets in a match. Nevertheless, he has now dismissed 49 Durham batsmen in nine games at 14.12 runs apiece. Given that his batting average against his favourite opponents is 40.87, it's plain that he's very much an allrounder in these games. Perhaps Durham might think about signing Barker simply to prevent him playing against them. Mind you, they could probably use his batting at least.
The 28-year-old's performances here made it appear even stranger that he has played just one Lions game. To win one full England cap may be regarded as misfortunate but to appear just once for the Lions might stretch even Oscar Wilde's range of bon mots. Yet Barker did not dominate the last day of this match. He merely removed the horribly out-of-form Phil Mustard for 8 and took Durham's tenth wicket when Chris Rushworth's slash found the marvellously safe hands of Rikki Clarke at second slip.
Instead, the main breakthroughs were made by the relatively unobtrusive and rapidly greying Clarke, who began his work when he had Paul Collingwood lbw with a ball which nipped back off the pitch in the fourth over of the morning. Given that Durham had resumed on 189 for 4 and their main hope of achieving an improbable draw rested on Collingwood and Mark Stoneman batting until Alastair makes it up with Kevin, this wicket was vital in throttling any hopes of a recovery. At that point, the visitors were still 63 runs short of making Warwickshire bat again.
The job was by no means done, though. After Mustard's dismissal, Stoneman and Paul Coughlin batted with good sense until, having reached his century off 179 balls, the opener exhibited no sense at all in running himself out. Coughlin played a ball from Jeetan Patel to midwicket, Stoneman scampered down the pitch and substitute fielder Aaron Thomason quietly tossed the ball to Patel, whose removal of the bails beat the batsman's unlovely sprawl.
Still Durham were not quite done. Coughlin and Hastings's 52-run stand for the eighth wicket ensured that Warwickshire would have to bat again but Clarke removed hopes of miracles by taking the wickets of both batsmen in the space of five balls. Coughlin was taken by Porterfield at slip for 49 and Hastings drove to Jonathan Trott at extra cover.
Left to score 63 on a pitch that was a credit to groundsman Gary Barwell, Warwickshire lost William Porterfield to the third ball of the innings, the opener top-edging an attempted pull that will not appear in his Christmas video. Later they lost Trott when Hastings got a touch to a drive from Westwood, but Warwickshire secured their 24 points in 17.4 overs and are now third in the table.
Come September they may well be in the shake-up for the Championship; before that, however, on July 12 to be precise, Varun Chopra's men visit Chester-le-Street. Keith Barker is, as they say, looking forward to it already.