Knight almost pays Price for late declaration

Warwickshire 460 & 254-8dec Worcestershire 416 & 156-1 Match drawn

The County Championship may be Warwickshire's oyster, but Worcestershire yesterday proved to be the grit in it as they denied their Midlands rivals the possibility of the victory that would would have clinched the title with a determined performance.

The County Championship may be Warwickshire's oyster, but Worcestershire yesterday proved to be the grit in it as they denied their Midlands rivals the possibility of the victory that would would have clinched the title with a determined performance.

Now Warwickshire must either glean the remaining nine points they require from their final match at Northampton in 12 days' time, or see if Sussex, the only threat to their aspirations, drop enough points (eight in all) in the two matches they play in the meantime, to hand them the crown.

It was a disappointing outcome. The championship should be won with a victorious flourish, not a flabby draw. But Warwickshire, while they have the greatest number of bowling bonus points, do not possess the most penetrative attack when it matters most - in the second innings where matches are won - or not, in this case.

This was Warwickshire's fifth successive draw and the tenth of this particular campaign. When they are eventually crowned champions, they will have won the title with the fewest victories by any side since the introduction of the two-division system. Right now their wins number five, they really need to beat Northamptonshire if only to convince themselves that they have not lost the winning habit.

There have been reasons for their lack of finishing power. The loss of Ashley Giles to England and Brad Hogg to Australia pared down their spin options, although Jim Troughton has shouldered the burden admirably of late. But should John Inverarity agree to stay on for another year as coach he will have to unearth or sign up a frontline spinner as well as a couple of potent quicks.

Perhaps that was why there was an element of caution in Warwickshire captain Nick Knight's declaration of the second innings, after 160 runs had been added at a stately pace to the overnight 94-3. It left Worcestershire with a maximum of 38 overs in which to knock off the 299 required.

The Warwickshire innings was more notable for Worcestershire's left arm spinner Ray Price, who bowled unchanged from the start for 29 overs.

His team-mates honoured his effort by having a brief go. After the early loss of Stephen Peters, Graeme Hick and Stephen Moore threatened with some sumptuous hitting. Hick thumped his way to 50 off 51 balls. Moore hammered a six and 16 fours in his 83 not out, but there was too much to do and too little in which to do it. The chase was eventually called off with nine overs remaining.

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