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Warwickshire take firm control of Bob Willis Trophy

Warwickshire take firm control of Bob Willis Trophy

A morning blitz from Warwickshire’s pacemen enabled the newly-crowned county champions to take immediate control of the Bob Willis Trophy on the opening day at Lord’s.

The Bears reinforced their title-winning credentials as Lancashire crashed to 12 for six – and in danger of their lowest-ever first-class total – before scrambling to 78.

Craig Miles inflicted the key blows with four wickets in 13 deliveries, en-route to figures of five for 28, while five Lancashire batsmen failed to score.

Openers Dom Sibley and Rob Yates then cemented Warwickshire’s authority to reach 120 without loss before bad light forced any early end to the day at 5pm.

Warwickshire had secured their first LV= Insurance County Championship title in a decade on Friday, when they defeated Somerset, to deny Lancashire after they had given themselves hope the previous day with a dramatic one-wicket win over Hampshire.

The Red Rose’s consolation was a trip to Lord’s and the opportunity to claim silverware from Warwickshire, the county that Bob Willis played at from 1972 until 1984. Any such ambitions, however, appeared all but lost after just nine overs.

Lancashire’s lowest-ever first-class total was the 25 they managed against Derbyshire way back in 1871 and, at 12 for six, hopes of overhauling that mark felt similarly distant.

Warwickshire had opted to bowl and Liam Norwell struck first, opener George Balderson steering the ball into the cordon, to set the stage for a remarkable first 45 minutes.

Miles then took charge as he made the most of a 10.30am start and the seaming conditions. It was his athleticism, though, that earned his first reward as he raced to dive and catch an inside-edge that looped off Alex Davies’ pad.

Luke Wells and captain Dane Vilas then fell in the same Miles over without scoring. Wells’ off stump was pinned back before a full delivery hit Vilas on the front foot and plumb in front.

Steven Croft bagged the third duck of the innings, trapped lbw on the crease by Miles, and when Norwell had Rob Jones caught behind Lancashire lost their sixth wicket for the addition of four runs in a 38-ball period that left them nervously eyeing an unwanted place in the history books.

Josh Bohannon at least ensured that indignity was avoided, stroking a rare boundary to push the score beyond 25, but it was short relief as he pulled debutant Manraj Johal to mid-wicket.

The teenager then also removed Tom Bailey and Jack Blatherwick either side of lunch to further cheer Warwickshire’s day as he returned figures of 29 for three in an impressive burst.

Luke Wood saved some of Lancashire’s blushes as he opted to attack in the crisis, striking eight fours in his unbeaten 46, before Miles completed his five-for by having last man Matt Parkinson caught behind.

Warwickshire openers Sibley and Yates then secured the first task of the reply as they surpassed Lancashire’s total without the loss of a wicket.

That would be important should rain prevent a result, as Warwickshire would be crowned winners having led on the first innings.


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