Warwickshire have claimed their first LV County Championship title in eight years after thrashing Worcestershire by an innings and 202 runs.
The Bears now hold an unassailable 41-point lead over Sussex at the summit of the division one table with one match remaining.
Winning their first title since 2004 should go somewhere towards getting over the agony they faced a year ago when they were piped to the title on the final day by Lancashire. This time round has been straighter forward for the Birmingham-based side as they went into their latest match knowing a victory would be enough for the title.
The victory in their match at New Road could hardly have been more emphatic. In the first innings they bowled out the division’s basement side for just 60 with Chris Wright and Keith Barker claiming five wickets apiece.
Varun Chopra led the way in their reply with a superbly crafted 195 along with support from Ian Westwood (54), Jim Troughton (54) and Ian Blackwell (83) as they piled up a huge 471, for a first innings lead of over 400.
Wright again led the way in Worcestershire’s second innings as he took 4-65 to go with his first innings 5-24 – leaving the home side all out for 209 and the Bears celebrating their success after six months of toil.
Warwickshire’s success this season has been down to a valiant team effort.
The batting, in the absence of England regulars Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott for the majority of the season, has been strong throughout. In a summer of bad weather and poor batting conditions they have passed 400 runs on seven occasions.
Individually the batting has been led by opener Chopra, who has 1028 runs at 42.83, he is closely followed by captain Troughton, who alongside leading his side with verve and vigour, has also scored 788 runs at 39.40. Allrounder Rikki Clarke (758 runs @ 47.37) and opener Westwood (724 @ 42.58) have also impressed, while Tim Ambrose (660 @ 44.00) William Porterfield (558 @ 26.57) and Darren Maddy (432 @ 24.00) also deserve a mention.
The bowling has been equally impressive with the wickets well spread around. Wright, who was disregarded by Essex just a year ago, leads the way with 63 wickets at 23.11 and was backed up by former Blackburn Rovers trainee-turned left-arm seamer Barker (54 @ 20.33), New Zealand spinner Jeetan Patel (46 @ 22.02), promising allrounder Chris Woakes (25 @ 23.32) and former England man Clarke (24 @ 20.50).
Warwickshire’s 2012 success could also be doubled as they face Hampshire in the Clydesdale Bank Pro40 final at Lords a week on Saturday. Success there would underline the talent and hunger of this side, until then, let the celebrations continue.