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Group 1, Worcester, July 11 - 14, 2021, County Championship
395 & 215/2d

Match drawn


Rob Yates ensures Warwickshire graduate to higher honours in flat finish at New Road

Worcestershire left with little solace as they are condemned to Division Three status

George Dobell
George Dobell
Rob Yates pulls behind square  •  Getty Images

Rob Yates pulls behind square  •  Getty Images

Worcestershire 447 for 9 dec (Mitchell 113, Barnard 112*, Haynes 65) drew with Warwickshire 395 (Malan 141, Sibley 80, Rhodes 60, Sodhi 6-89) and 215 for 2 dec (Yates 88, Malan 77*, Sibley 41)
Another determined innings from Rob Yates has helped Warwickshire secure their place in Division One of the County Championship.
Yates, a 21-year-old student with another year of university in front of him, made 88 to ensure Warwickshire achieved the draw they required to book their place in the top six when Championship cricket resumes on August 30.
In partnership with Pieter Malan, he added 139 for Warwickshire's second wicket but fell just short of his fourth century of the Championship campaign when he attempted to accelerate to the milestone with time running out in the match.
Malan, who came into this match averaging 15.12 in his first five Championship matches, finished unbeaten on 77 to add to his first-innings century.
Qualifying for Division One represents significant progress from Warwickshire. They didn't win a first-class match in 2020 and finished second from bottom of Division One in 2019. But the appointment of Mark Robinson as head coach, and a couple of astute additions, has resulted in a team with added resilience who play a slightly old-school style of tough, attritional cricket. Tellingly, three of their victories have been achieved in the final hour of games with successful run-chases against Nottinghamshire and Essex especially memorable. Danny Briggs, whose improved batting has complemented his left-arm spin nicely, must be one of the signings of the season.
But it is, perhaps, Yates' development which has been most pleasing. Tested here by the footmarks outside the left-hander's off-stump, he again demonstrated the temperament and technique to suggest he could play at a higher level. He played and missed a couple of times and survived a tough caught-and-bowled chance to Ish Sodhi on 30 but he is his club's leading run-scorer in the competition and went within 12 of being the first man in the land to score four Championship centuries this season.
His cricketing education will continue next week when he is named in a County Select XI to take on India in a three-day warm-up match alongside county colleague Will Rhodes. Liam Norwell and Craig Miles are reserves.
This was not, in truth, the most invigorating days of cricket. While there was a little assistance for the spinners from a couple of areas of rough (this pitch had been used previously for a T20 match) it was too slow to cause any great anxiety to well-organised batters intent on survival. The Warwickshire wickets that fell - Dom Sibley, caught down the leg-side as he attempted a pull and Yates, caught off a top-edge after attempting a slog-sweep - owed more to batter error than any great incision. Brett D'Oliveira was absent for personal reasons.
Earlier Ed Barnard completed the second first-class century of his career and season. Resuming on 98 overnight, he helped Worcestershire extend their first-innings lead to 52 before declaring. But though Josh Baker, the 18-year-old left-arm-spinner, opened the bowling in the second innings on debut, there was not enough assistance in the surface to put Warwickshire under any pressure.
The result sustains a grim run of form for Worcestershire in Championship cricket. Having been relegated at the end of 2018, they finished second from bottom of Division Two in 2019 (only Leicestershire were below them) and will now be in Division Three when the Championship resumes.
There will, no doubt, be questions asked of a squad which includes several senior players - not least Riki Wessels, Daryl Mitchell and Ross Whiteley - who are out of contract at the end of the season.
But Worcestershire may be better served looking at their pitches. This one, like so many at the ground, had little life and resulted in just 21 wickets falling across the four days. It's tough to prepare great wickets on a ground which spends several weeks under water each winter - especially this year, when Spring was so cold - but there really isn't much encouragement out there for the talented young bowlers (Adam Finch, Dillion Pennington and Josh Tongue et al) at the club. In this side, only Sodhi - who only played one game - had a bowling average below 44 in the Championship season.
"It was pretty similar to a couple of wickets we've played on here this season," Joe Leach, the Worcestershire captain, said afterwards. "It was very flat and pretty brutal for us bowlers. It wasn't conducive to taking 20 wickets. I think I could have declared a week ago and they'd still be batting.
"It's been a disappointing campaign. I don't feel we've been a million miles away and I do feel we're making progress. But ultimately the table doesn't lie."
Warwickshire have some decisions to make about overseas players when Championship cricket resumes, though. Malan flies back to South Africa in the coming days where his wife is expecting a baby. Given the difficulty of travel between the countries, it may be the last the club sees of him this season. Hanuma Vihari, who is still in the country following his spell with the club at the start of the season, could well be recalled depending on whether he is required by the India team.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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