Ryan Sidebottom took 10 wickets in the match as Warwickshire got their bid for an immediate return to Division One of the Specsavers County Championship underway with an innings-and-48-run victory over Northamptonshire on the third afternoon at Wantage Road.
Sidebottom, after a career-best 6 for 35 in the first innings, added a second-innings 4 for 61 to help bowl Northants out for 218 as Warwickshire’s dominance on the game brought a huge margin of victory. Five of their nine defeats last season came by an innings but here they were on the right side of such a result and took 22 points to Northants’ two.
The Bears were always in command of the game after firing out their hosts for just 147 on day one. They were made to work harder for 10 wickets second time around but only one partnership of note provided significant resistance – Adam Rossington and Josh Cobb added 72 for the sixth wicket between lunch and tea.
Sidebottom claimed the crucial wicket of Rossington with the second new ball. With the first delivery with it he struck Rossington on the left hand and then caught him on the crease to remove the Northants keeper lbw for 58.
Rossington and Cobb saved Northants from an even bigger defeat. They looked liked tumbling away as they slumped from 87 for 1 to 100 for 5 in the fourth over after lunch after Rob Keogh prodded forward to Sidebottom and edged to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose for 6 from 51 balls.
But Rossington advanced at Jeetan Patel to clip him wide of midwicket for four and the first runs off Patel for 35 balls. He twice hit the offspinner wide of extra-cover and lofted him over mid-off. Another aerial stroke – a swept six over midwicket off Patel – took him to fifty in 135 balls.
Cobb also played well but failed to provide the big innings his side needed. He steered Sidebottom through point for two boundaries but edged Patel between first and second slip and almost presented a bat-pad chance to short leg off the same bowler. He pulled Chris Wright through square leg for a third boundary but in the over before tea, pushed at Wright to get a feather edge behind to fall for 30.
Sidebottom cleaned up Brett Hutton for his 10th wicket of the match and it was left to 18-year-old Henry Brookes to claim the final two wickets, taking out Ben Sanderson’s middle stump to complete victory.
It looked like being harder work for Warwickshire after the first hour where Alex Wakely and Rob Newton settled the home side after the loss of Ben Duckett – caught behind driving lazily at Sidebottom. But in the second hour of the morning, Patel took two wickets in two balls.
Northants captain Wakely began with a flowing cover drive off Sidebottom and skipped down the pitch to lift Patel into the Wilson stand. But after a second six over long on, Patel came round the wicket and a quicker ball caught Wakely on the crease and he fell lbw for 25. Next ball, Richard Levi played forward and got an inside edge onto his pad that looped up to Jonathan Trott diving forward at slip.
The double strike saw Northants grind to a halt and they only scored 12 runs in the remaining 13 overs to lunch, with Newton scoring only one run from 31 balls before he tamely chipped Chris Wright to short square leg for 46. That wicket, a quarter of an hour before lunch, cleared Warwickshire’s path to victory.
Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley:
“At Lord’s I felt it was much tighter than the scores suggested but here we’ve been well beaten. Our first innings batting was where the damage was done, it was a good toss to win and to come out with only 147 was where the game was lost.
“It was difficult to score on that pitch but to get knocked over is another thing. The Lord’s game we were properly bowled out but back here it was the old Northants Achilles heel of giving too many wickets away that we could have done more about.
“We fought pretty hard in the second innings, it was difficult, there was a bit of variable bounce. Today, we’ve batted for 90 overs and if we had batted the same time in the first innings we would have been well in the game.”
Warwickshire’s Ryan Sidebottom:
“It’s something for me today that I’ll cherish for a long time. I was disappointed in the last game to do all the work through pre-season and to miss out at the last moment but I was grateful to get my chance here and I was pretty pleased how it worked out.
“It was very much a new ball wicket, with the old ball it got soft and you could never take your foot off the throttle, everyone steamed in and hit the wicket pretty hard.
“Last season I got a taste of county cricket and I have a great opportunity to get stuck in. I’ve got the contract extension for next season so that’s off my mind and I can concentrate on helping get the club back in Division One where we belong.”