Champions Warwickshire have left themselves with still plenty to do if they are to mount a successful defence of their title, but a comprehensive victory over Nottinghamshire will serve notice to those above them that they cannot be discounted.
Justifying their decision not to enforce the follow-on with a first-innings lead of 246, they bowled Nottinghamshire out for a second time for 210 to complete a 216-run win at more or less the point at which Nottinghamshire had been hoping to shake hands on a draw.
They had gone to lunch at 78 for two, with every prospect of hanging on grimly. But consistently good bowling, allied to some imaginative field placings by stand-in captain Varun Chopra, that kept the batsmen under constant pressure, won the day for Warwickshire.
Alex Hales, so dreadfully out of touch in the Championship this season that he played here only because Riki Wessels was ruled out, responded to the challenge with only his second half-century of the season but there were disappointments in the middle order with James Taylor and Chris Read falling cheaply and Samit Patel given out in disputed circumstances when looking as if he might have been the man to save Nottinghamshire.
Patel was so obviously aggrieved with umpire Trevor Jesty’s decision to uphold William Porterfield’s appeal for a catch at short midwicket that he will be lucky to escape punishment for dissent. Patel felt the ball had looped up after being hit into the ground.
With Read out almost immediately, the third of four victims for the skilful New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel, that was the point at which the odds swung in Warwickshire’s favour. Nottinghamshire limped on to tea but Patel bowled Ajmal Shahzad with the first ball of the final session, exposing the tail.
Andre Adams was caught by Ian Westwood at short leg off Patel and with the new ball taken after 84 overs David Hussey – the last hope of survival – was taken low down at first slip by Chopra before Boyd Rankin wrapped things up by having Luke Fletcher caught at third slip.
Chopra said afterwards he felt the title defence was still alive. “I don’t know where we stand in points but we have to play Yorkshire next and Sussex are still to come here and if we are playing good cricket we are a match for most sides,” he said
“We had to be patient. On wickets like this at Edgbaston trying to get 20 wickets is always very difficult. Against Lancashire we made them follow on and they batted out the day. We didn’t here and it was always in the back of your mind that it might have been the wrong decision. But we felt if we added a few more the wicket might deteriorate a bit more and that would be to our advantage with an international spinner in the side.”