A brief history of Warwickshire

Sam Collins

Formed 1882
First-class debut 1894
Admitted to Championship1895
County Championship 1911, 1951, 1972, 1994, 1995, 2004
Gillette/NatWest/C&G 1966, 1968, 1989, 1993, 1995
Benson & Hedges 1994, 2002
Sunday League 1980, 1994, 1997
Twenty20 Best - Runners-up 2003

Warwickshire cricket stems back to the Wellesborne Cricket Club, who changed their name to Warwickshire in 1826. They played at Warwick Racecourse, before later heading back to Wellesborne village, but records of most of their matches have been lost.

Warwickshire as we know it were formed in 1882, when local teacher William Ansell called a meeting to organise a fully representative club. Birmingham was chosen ahead of Leamington as a central base, and Edgbaston was opened in 1886, hosting its first Test in 1902.

They entered the County Championship in 1895, and won it for the first time in 1911, with a team captained by Frank Foster. They had to wait until 1951 for their second Championship success, when Charlie Groves took 103 wickets in his final season at the club to help them on their way.

The 1970's saw a host of top-class players at Edgbaston, foremost Dennis Amiss and the West Indians Rohan Kanhai and Alvin Kallicharan and they claimed the title again in 1972, having finished second the previous season. These three successes are notable for their isolation, as Warwickshire, for a large county with a Test-ground, underachieved somewhat prior to the 1990s.

It was in this decade, under the shrewd captaincy of Dermot Reeve, that they finally established themselves as a force in the domestic game. They claimed the NatWest Trophy in 1993 to kick off the run, and in 1994 won the treble of the Championship, the Benson & Hedges Cup and the Sunday League, and were beaten finalists in the NatWest Trophy. This was Brian Lara's annus mirabilis, during which he scored a world-record 501 not out against Durham at Edgbaston. The following year they added the double of the Championship and the NatWest Trophy, as Allan Donald finished the season with 89 wickets, and the Sunday League was claimed again in 1997.

The new millennium saw more success for the county, as they claimed the final Benson and Hedges Cup in 2002, and the Championship in 2004. This success, under the captaincy of Nick Knight, was notable for the team using the points system to full effect as they drew 11 out of their 16 matches. Some dismissed the strategy as dreary, as they failed to win a match after July 24, but Knight claimed the strategy was needed to mask deficiencies in the bowling attack, and the team were the first to go through a county season undefeated since Surrey in 1999.

Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in London