Woakes, Carter lift Warwickshire out of danger
Warwickshire 294 and 140 beat Kent 111 and 228 by 95 runs
The roars that greeted the moment of victory spoke volumes: Warwickshire knew that had struck a telling blow in the battle to avoid relegation. The 95-run win sees Warwickshire move 18 points ahead of Kent and out of the reach of Essex. Hampshire, too, are now in the thick of the fight.
Warwickhire are not assured of safety but, with one game remaining, they have their fate in their own hands. They've won three of their last five championship games and will be strengthened by the return of Ian Bell for their final championship game at The Rose Bowl.
"We've given ourselves a great chance," Ashley Giles, Warwickshire's director of cricket, said after the game. "It's not a done deal, but we're getting there. It's getting towards being miraculous.
"But, if we do stay up, we're not going to let it paper over any cracks. We still know that we have to recruit and develop and I want to see more competition for places in the batting department. "But one thing I am pleased about is that we haven't just died. We've shown a lot of fight and, in the last couple of games [against Essex and Kent] I'd say the difference has been that we've been the side who wanted it more.
"I know some people have compared this team to one we had here in 2007 [that suffered relegation under the leadership of Mark Greatbatch]. But there's a big difference. In 2007 the side rolled over. This time we've showing some fight." It's worth noting, too, that Warwickshire have now won as many games this season as they did in 2004, the year they won the championship.
It was entirely typical of this extraordinary game that Kent's tenth-wicket pair should have thwarted Warwickshire for an hour on the final morning. A century from Martin van Jaarsveld showed, once and for all, that this pitch holds no particular demons, while for the second time in the match, Matt Coles showed a well organised technique.
Their colleagues showed far less fight. Darren Stevens clipped to midwicket, Azhar Mahmood tried to work an outswinger to the leg side and edged to slip, while Simon Cook became the eighth Kent 'duck' of the game when he was utterly bamboozled by a swinging delivery that struck the batsman on the boot.
While Kent's batting - the admirable van Jaarsveld apart - was surprisingly brittle, the bowling of Chris Woakes and Neil Carter was simply irrepressible. The pair took 19 wickets between them, with Woakes finishing with career-best match figures of 11 for 97 and Carter taking his fourth five-wicket haul of the summer and to finish with 8 for 106 in the game.
It's been a remarkable summer for Carter. The final wicket, that of Coles, who spooned a catch to cover when he changed his mind about pulling, gave Carter the fourth five-wicket haul of the season while the wicket of Alex Blake, drawn into edging a perfect delivery that swung away from him, gave Carter his 50th wicket of the campaign.
It was the first time in his ten-year county career that the 35-year-old has achieved such a feat and the first time a Warwickshire seamer had taken 50 championshiph wickets in a summer since Tim Munton did so in 1999.
For Woakes, however, this performance may prove well timed. He has shown rare class with bat and ball in this match and, aged 21, underlined the impression that he has the skill and temperament to go far. That may well include a trip to Australia in the Academy squad this winter.
If England are looking for back-up for James Anderson, they need not look much further than Woakes. He may not quite have Anderson's pace - though Woakes has certainly added a yard this season - but he'll swing the ball in most conditions and has the ability to score vital runs at Test level.
Kent, meanwhile, have to regroup quickly if they are to avoid relegation. They have two games left - against Hampshire and Yorkshire - but, on this form, will struggle to alter the momentum of their season.
Their batsmen would do well to follow the example of Van Jaarsveld. His century (147 balls, 14 fours) was not littered with glorious strokes or outrageous moments, but rather showed up the merits of playing straight and remaining patient. They are qualities which any batsmen, regardless of talent, should be able to replicate. The ease with which he recorded his second championship century of the season showed what might have been if only his colleagues could have matched his resilience and determination. Kent will need such qualities in abundance if they are to escape relegation.