Warwickshire close the gap

Warwickshire 255 and 325 Somerset 242 and 239 Warwickshire win by 99 runs
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The Independent Online
Warwickshire, after another hesitant start, are into their stride again. Now 11 points behind the leaders, Yorkshire, with a game in hand, the next destination in the defence of their title is... Headingley.

This was an especially gratifying victory, one without four Test players, Reeve, Munton, Small, all injured, and Knight with England.

They were made to bat first, were twice run dizzy by Andrew Caddick and slammed for 71 and 61 by Shane Lee, but still emerged handsome victors with more than an hour to spare. The spinner, Ashley Giles, finished with 4 for 69.

Early rain did not delay the start, but a wet outfield did not help a run chase and with Mark Lathwell dismissed on Saturday, Somerset's hopes of scoring 321 always looked distant. The loss of Peter Bowler in the fifth over was a further blow.

Jeremy Batty and Andy Hayhurst checked the seamers for eight overs until Hayhurst pushed to cover. Batty declined, Hayhurst tried to recover and Trevor Penney's throw was swift and accurate.

As soon as the spinners appeared the innings rocked. Batty was trapped at 61 and Marcus Trescothick, puzzled by Giles' flight, gave a return catch at 79. Somerset were not without hope while Lee was at the crease and those Somerset wiseacres who have been reserving their opinion on the Australian - "let's see how he plays spin" - had their chance.

But Lee and Piran Holloway buckled down and for 32 overs Somerset prospered. Lee drove and cut Giles and laid into Graeme Welch when the latter replaced Neil Smith, and 96 had been added before Lee gave Giles his revenge by mistiming another drive and dollying to mid-on.

At tea 112 were needed off a minimum of 24 overs, but with only four wickets left and Graham Rose having tweaked a hamstring, it needed a pint or two of scrumpy for the wiseacres to remain optimistic.

Andy Moles switched Giles to the River End, a move that confounded Holloway, bowled around his legs after 42 off 176 balls. Shaun Pollock was using short bursts from the other end, Rob Turner finally falling from one of his leg-side bouncers.

Caddick used his long reach to meet the pitch while another 21 were added until Smith gently drew him into lofting to short mid-on, Giles cleaning up when Kevin Shine drove to extra cover.