The sleeping Bears have awoken. Or at least, at the first time of asking under Ashley Giles, Warwickshire have shaken themselves from their self-inflicted torpor.
Having gone down from Division One last year, they ensured an immediate return yesterday by inflicting a six-wicket defeat on Essex. Both promotion spots are now decided and with Worcestershire also going up it also means both the clubs relegated in 2007 are returning.
It may or may not say something about the gap appearing in standards, though since both promoted clubs, Nottinghamshire and Somerset, are vying for the Championship itself the jury may have to be out for some time. Warwickshire were propelled to victory by the veteran leg spinner Ian Salisbury, who took six for 46 in reducing Essex from 247 for one to 316 all out. The removal of Ravi Bopara for 133 prompted the collapse and Warwickshire accumulated the runs artfully in their victory. Salisbury has taken 31 wickets this summer, with five wickets in an innings five times.
Tony Frost, scorer of 242 not out in the first innings, was there at the end with 38. It is at least arguable that he has been Giles' wisest signing, pulled out of retirement at 32 (from Warwickshire's ground staff) to act as wicketkeeping cover for Tim Ambrose and then twice surpassing his previous career-best score. Perhaps Frost felt that he had nothing to lose and that the mowers and rollers would still be there waiting for him. His two innings in the penultimate match have taken his Championship batting average to 91.8.
At the bottom, Derbyshire came from behind to inflict on Gloucestershire their fifth defeat. Graham Wagg took 4 for 77 to add to his first innings 6 for 56, the first 10-wicket match return of his career.
All Gloucestershire can do is wait for the return of John Bracewell as coach next summer. The legacy he hoped to leave after his first spell in the job has been largely dissipated and although he made them into a one-day force rather than Championship force they have been in disarray on all fronts. If Bracewell thought coaching New Zealand at international level was a perpetual challenge he will be well aware that coaching Gloucestershire is the domestic equivalent.
In the other bottom of the table clash, Glamorgan beat Leicestershire whose season has been in gradual decline. They took the match to a fourth innings thanks to Paul Nixon's first century of the season, the 19th of his career. Nixon will be 38 next month.
In the First Division, Durham and Sussex padded gently to a gentlemanly draw. Durham finished on 125 for two and Sussex were all out in the morning and are still not certain to avoid the drop. Jason Lewry, their admirable 37-year-old swinger, bowled nine overs, removing young Ben Harmison but he will have kept something in reserve for this week. Perhaps the Coen Brothers could make a film about the eccentricities of the Championship but it might not be called No Country For Old Men.Reuse content