A hasty reassessment of prospects may be necessary after Warwickshire – supposed relegation candidates in Division One of the County Championship – recorded an extraordinary victory by an innings and 382 runs over early title favourites Somerset inside three days at Taunton.
It was the second heaviest defeat inflicted on Somerset in the county's history, topped only by Lancashire in 1895, when they lost by an innings and 452 runs after Archie MacLaren had scored 424 for the visitors on his own.
Chasing Warwickshire's mammoth 642, Somerset resumed on 147 for 6 in the first innings but were dismissed for 210 as Chris Woakes, likely to establish himself as an England all-rounder in the near future, finished with 6 for 85 to add to his 129 with the bat.
Warwickshire enforced the follow-on and the hosts then collapsed to 50 all out, their lowest score in the competition since they were dismissed for 40 by Glamorgan at Swansea in 1968. Woakes dismissed Arul Suppiah, Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter before Rikki Clarke, who was the pick of the bowlers, tore through the tail to claim 5 for 10.
Earlier, as Somerset showed a woeful lack of resolve, Woakes had brought about the rapid end of the home side's first innings. The 22-year-old enjoyed a first taste of senior international cricket in the one-day series in Australia in the winter, taking 6 for 45 in Adelaide.
Yesterday he had Gemaal Hussain caught at second slip by Clarke and Ajantha Mendis edged into the slips to become his fifth victim before Charl Willoughby holed out next ball.
As Somerset followed on, Woakes effectively picked up where he left off, dismissing Suppiah with his second ball. Nick Compton was trapped in front by Andrew Miller, who saw off James Hildreth in similar fashion two balls later. Then captain Trescothick was caught at cover by William Porterfield off Woakes to leave his team rocking on 7 for 4.
Kieswetter and Jos Buttler briefly interrupted the tumble of wickets but Porterfield and Woakes combined again to remove the former. Seamer Clarke then took centre stage and finished the job with a day and a half to spare.
Somerset, who were pipped for the title on the last day of last season and finished as runners-up in the two one-day competitions, strengthened their squad over the winter and began the season with high expectations. "I'm just a bit baffled," Trescothick said. "We are all a bit confused. It is hard to explain how one side puts 600 on the board and the other gets bowled out twice. We'll just have to write it off as one of those things and move on.
"Starting off a new season is always a bit of a nervous time but there are no excuses. We can't dwell on it too long. We don't go from being a good team to a bad team overnight."
At Headingley, Durham's Dale Benkenstein hit 150 and reserve wicketkeeper Michael Richardson his second half-century of his debut Championship match to leave another of the title favourites, Yorkshire, needing to score 490 in the last innings after Durham declared on 311 for 6.
In Division Two, Middlesex needed only 42 minutes to wrap up an eight-wicket win over Essex, who have lost both their opening games after being relegated from the top flight.
After doing all the hard work on Friday, when 20 Essex wickets fell, Middlesex needing 54 for victory and reached their target inside 11 overs, opener Scott Newman ensuring that business was concluded before lunch on day three with seven boundaries in his unbeaten 38.
There were wins also for Northamptonshire, who crushed relegated Kent by an innings and 159 runs, and for Derbyshire, who beat Leicestershire by an innings and 32.Reuse content