Westwood fifty guides Warwickshire to victory
Warwickshire 155 and and 155 for 3 beat Essex 150 and 159 by seven wickets
Ian Westwood scored the only half-century of the match to guide bottom side Warwickshire to a seven-wicket victory over fellow County Championship strugglers Essex at Southend.
The visiting captain struck 61 to steer his side to their third success of the summer after they had been left with a target of 155. Westwood combined a solid defence with the occasional flourish as he gathered his runs from 130 deliveries with the aid of six fours.
The opener was finally undone by Australian leg-spinner Bryce McGain when he was trapped lbw playing back with Warwickshire still requiring a further 37. But Jim Troughton and Rikki Clarke were to see them to their target without further alarms.
Darren Maddy also played a significant part in the visitors' win, helping Westwood add 82 in 26 overs for the second wicket before he edged David Masters to Tim Phillips in the slips. Earlier, Essex managed to add a further 81 after resuming on 78 for 6. That was due largely to the efforts of Matt Walker and Masters.
After Phillips had been removed early on by Boyd Rankin, the eighth-wicket pair added 46 against a diet of pace without looking in serious trouble. The mystery was why Westwood waited so long to introduce spinner, Imran Tahir, into the attack as they dug in. When he did so, Tahir wasted very little time in claiming the remaining wickets.
With the seventh delivery of a new spell, he had Walker taken at slip by Clarke to end a resolute innings that spanned 111 balls and brought him 39 runs. Masters became an lbw victim in Tahir's next over after he had struck 34 with the help of five boundaries, before Andy Carter suffered the same fate.
Tahir's three wickets came in the space of 22 deliveries at a personal cost of seven as he finished with figures of four for 20 from 8.4 overs. Jimmy Ord became an early scalp of Masters, caught at slip, when Warwickshire set off in pursuit of victory. But Westwood and Maddy's productive partnership virtually put paid to any victory hopes Essex may have entertained as they carried the total into three figures.
Both were then dismissed in the space of half a dozen overs, Maddy falling for 39 against Masters, but, by then, Essex were resigned to a defeat that saw them extract only three points from the match and leave them with an enormous task to avoid relegation, having played more games than those struggling around them.
Warwickshire, despite gaining 19 points, are still rooted to the bottom of the table, but at least they will go into their next game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge with renewed hope.