Warwickshire 201 (Hain 72, Broad 3-50) and 333 for 7 (Bresnan 68*, Hain 57, Lamb 50) beat Nottinghamshire 273 (Patterson-White 73, Rhodes 4-54) and 260 (Clarke 56, Hameed 53, Briggs 4-68, Stone 3-66) by three wickets
Warwickshire pulled off a heist of which Robin Hood would have been proud in completing a three-wicket victory over Nottinghamshire.
Set 333 to win – easily the highest score of the game – Warwickshire were reduced to 184 for 6 shortly after lunch on the final day. With all the specialist batters gone and the presumption that Dom Sibley, who sustained a broken finger earlier in the game, would be unable to bat, a Nottinghamshire win seemed all but inevitable.
But nobody had told Tim Bresnan and Olly Stone. And in a seventh-wicket stand of 113 – the highest of the match – they turned the game on its head.
Bresnan, apparently the calmest person on the pitch, finished unbeaten on 68, while Stone made the second-highest score of his first-class career, and his highest for Warwickshire, in contributing 43. Victory was achieved with 8.1 overs of the match remaining. It was Warwickshire’s first under their new head coach, Mark Robinson, and their first in first-class cricket since they last played Nottinghamshire, in September 2019.
This was an impressively resilient performance from Warwickshire. They went into the third day of this match in an apparently hopeless position – Notts were 200 ahead and retained eight wickets in their second-innings – but produced an outstanding bowling performance on day three to give themselves an outside chance. To follow it up with a memorable run-chase reflects well on this new-look side and its coaching staff. It has been a while since a Warwickshire side showed this toughness.
Bresnan was at the heart of that. He might, as a bowler at least, have lost a yard or two of pace. But he retains vast experience and remains a worthy batter. At tea, with 96 still needed, he returned to the dressing room to tell his team-mates, “It’s on boys, it’s on.” Such confidence, when backed with competence, can lift a side.
It was noticeable towards the end of the game that Sibley padded up, too. He approached Robinson when the equation was reduced to 50 and suggested he would like to contribute if he could. It’s a gesture that reflects well on Sibley’s commitment and the spirit within the dressing room. Sibley sees a specialist on Monday and there is a possibility that broken finger is just a little more serious than they would have had us believe. He will not be playing cricket for a few weeks.
This defeat will sting Nottinghamshire. It’s not just that it extends their horrendous run of form to 29 first-class games without a victory, but that they really did seem to have the win within their grasp. The dejection on their faces at the end spoke volumes. As, perhaps, did their anxiety as Warwickshire started to draw closer. This is a team that has lost a bit of confidence in itself to get over the line. Less than half of them have won a first-class match with Nottinghamshire. Afterwards, Peter Moores, their head coach, admitted the result was “a tough one to take”.
To some extent they were unfortunate. Certainly, they came up against an impressively determined opponent and saw much of the life leave the pitch as the sun came out on the final day. The second new ball, taken when Warwickshire were six down and still required 136, moved far less than any of its predecessors. They were without two or three first-choice seam bowlers, too, due to injury or illness.
But they might also reflect they lacked a bit of ruthlessness in their second innings, when they lost four wickets for three runs at one stage. And in struggling to 119 for 6 in their first innings, they failed to establish the platform they might have. They will forgive the young bowlers who served up a few more loose balls than they would have liked on the final day – these things are inevitable when trying to develop players – but might also reflect that their catching wasn’t as good it might have been.
Crucially, Bresnan was reprieved on 56, when 33 were still required for victory. The chance, to the right hand of Tom Moores, was not easy by any means. But perhaps Moores, appearing to react late and then seeming to dive a bit far, made it appear more difficult than he might have done. Tellingly, there were also 19 byes in Warwickshire’s second innings.
Stuart Broad was the unfortunate bowler on that occasion. He certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side in this game, getting through 49 overs including 20 on the final day and bowling with a pace and hostility that reflected his commitment. “Our lads couldn’t have given any more,” Moores said. “It was a great scrap.”
Indeed, it was. Even before that Bresnan-Stone partnership, Warwickshire had shown admirable resistance. Matt Lamb and Sam Hain batted throughout the morning session and added 89 runs to revive their hopes.
Hain’s contest against Broad was a particularly compelling session of play. Broad, alternating from round and over the wicket, unleashed a barrage of short-pitched deliveries with a field that included, at various times, a leg slip, short leg, silly point and long leg set for the hook.
Hain just about weathered the storm. But he sustained three blows – one to the shoulder, one to the chest and the other to his head which resulted in a concussion check – and looked deeply uncomfortable. Later Broad unleashed a similar spell upon Stone, who continued to get into line bravely despite taking one horrid-looking blow to the left elbow.
But when Dane Paterson struck three times in quick succession, it seemed the resistance had been futile. Paterson came into this match having not played a first-class game since January 2020, when he was part of the South Africa team beaten in Johannesburg by England, and improved markedly for the workout. He had Hain, attempting to hit an outswinger through the leg side, caught behind, Lamb bowled off his elbow by one that bounced more than anticipated and Michael Burgess bowled by a lavish inswinger.
But that was as good as it got for Nottinghamshire. And while Stone was drawn into attempting a drive against one that left him from the deserving Broad, the target was down to 36 by then.
Perhaps it was fitting that Danny Briggs should be there at the end. He had come out as nightwatchman on the first evening and then batted throughout the morning session to keep his side in the game. He returned his best bowling figures since 2016, too. He looks an astute acquisition.
It will be little consolation to Nottinghamshire right now, but when both head coaches described the match as “a great advert for four-day cricket” they were right. Nottinghamshire did a lot right in this game. If they keep playing like this, the results are bound to come. On this evidence, there really isn’t much wrong with this team.
For Warwickshire this result sets them up for a top-of-the-table encounter against Essex in a few days. The batting still looks a little fragile and it may be that Stone requires resting after his exertions here. But Graeme Welch, the Warwickshire bowling coach, rated his side’s bowling effort in the second innings as the best he had seen from them “for years” and this run-chase will instil great belief in that dressing room.
“It was a really hard-fought game,” Robinson said. “And I feel sorry for Notts. They fought hard and it really hurts when you lose that sort of game. But from our perspective, there is a sense of excitement and pride. You don’t often win those sort of games. We’re going in the right direction.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo