Chanderpaul sets dogged Bears on track for the title

Warwickshire 493 Hampshire 57-0

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The Independent Online

Warwickshire set out their Championship stall yesterday. If it was not exactly of attractive design it had a robust, determined look about it and was based on a template they had used successfully before.

The intention was plain. Warwickshire would bat for as long as it took to make Hampshire completely fed up, say just under two days, and then bowl them out twice. It had worked last week against Nottinghamshire, it might just do so again and the title would be going to Edgbaston for the first time since 2004.

The tactic, steely as it was, ensured that the second day never truly sprang to life. Pragmatism was all. The morning was dominated by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, in the manner that so many mornings have been. He was not to be rushed, he never is, and though he leapt from his crease occasionally, unfurling the odd pull to show that he could, he was perfectly content to meander along.

Hampshire bowled to contain, though their fields were never entirely defensive. They were between a rock and a hard place, wherein lay the precipice of relegation. In mid-afternoon, though, they received some welcome news which pulled them back from the edge.

Somehow, Worcestershire had failed to gain the third batting point they needed to ensure their own Division One safety and send down Hampshire along with Yorkshire. It left Hampshire a sliver of hope that next season they would again tread in the sunlit uplands of Division One.

Although they had finished the first day looking a mite bedraggled, they kept at it pretty well. The Rose Bowl has produced a series of draws this summer but perhaps Hampshire foresaw a spot of last-day collusion with both sides needing a victory – one to win the title, one to stay up.

Chanderpaul, who looked as if he was going nowhere, was out having a flail across the line to Liam Dawson's left- arm spin. His 171 took almost seven hours. If Warwickshire hang on to first place, he will have won the Championship as an overseas player with two counties, having been an integral part of Durham's triumphs in 2008 and 2009.

Title at stake or not, it was small beer compared with the delicious prospect of another round of in-fighting at Yorkshire. The county's chairman and benefactor, Colin Graves, is seething about their relegation.

Graves told the Yorkshire Post: "It's down to the players who have been on the park, nobody else. The performances have been a disgrace, they have been unacceptable. The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves as far as I'm concerned. We've given them everything they wanted – contracts, salaries, we've given them everything.

"In the past, they've blamed the Headingley pitch and said we can't get a result pitch at Headingley. Well, we've had bloody result pitches this year, but we kept losing on them." A winter of discontent in the Broad Acres is always worth looking forward to.

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