|LV= County Championship Division One, Edgbaston (Day Four)|
|Warwickshire 272-4 Dec: Yates 104 & 177: Sibley 77; Full 4-34|
|Hampshire 311 & 133: Norwell 9-62|
|Warwickshire (21 points) beat Yorkshire (4 points) by five runs|
Liam Norwell had the performance of his life with a stunning 9-62 as 2021 district champions Warwickshire miraculously stayed on their feet with a five-round win over Hampshire at Edgbaston – and Yorkshire were relegated.
The injury-plagued paceman bowled almost unchanged for 18.5 overs to deliver a stunning triumph and keep the Bears in Division One.
Bet just 139 to win after Warwickshire was bowled out for 177, Hampshire buckled to 133.
After losing the title to Surrey last week, Hampshire’s second straight defeat cost Hampshire second place to Lancashire – and £145,000 in prize money – as they now only finish third.
It was an amazing, career-best bowling performance from Norwell and the equally tireless but relatively unrewarded Oliver Hannon-Dalby.
The pair sent 37 of the 44 overs in Hampshire’s second innings between them.
While Yorkshire cursed their first relegation in 11 years, the Bears’ unlikely escape in Birmingham on a final day of the season when 18 wickets fell was as well received as their eighth title win here at Edgbaston a year ago.
Warwickshire finishes three points clear of Yorkshire, who lost to Gloucestershire, who had already been relegated on Wednesday, which meant survival was no longer in their hands.
Bears bowled out cheaply
After Wednesday’s 62-2 lead by just 23, the biggest surprise given the night’s rain and overcast prospects in Birmingham was that they had actually started on time thanks to the hard work of Gary Barwell and his Edgbaston ground crew.
That was about the only thing that went right for the Bears in the morning session despite a second half century in the game Dom Sibley from Surrey at his last appearance.
Brad Wheal having a game on loan to the Bears in Julybatted in back-to-back overs as both Alex Davies and skipper Will Rhodes holed to score their shots.
James Fuller then took over as chief wicket taker and added the scalps of Dan Mousley, Jacob Bethell, Danny Briggs and Norwell, nipping a run-out mix-up in between.
Sam Hain, who finished eighth after suffering a hamstring injury during an acrobatic limit stop on Wednesday, batted with a runner, Davies.
But after already surviving a run-out near miss, this time Davies was stranded in the middle of the wicket by a direct hit from Hampshire skipper James Vince – and was forced to slowly march back to the dressing room for the second Time in an hour, this time accompanied by the limping grove.
When Fuller then removed Briggs and Norwell on back-to-back balls, Fuller had a chance to repeat his Bob Willis Trophy hat trick against Surrey at Arundel in 2020.
But even though Hannon-Dalby survived the hat-trick ball, Sibley didn’t trust the Last Man of the Bears’ survivability skills despite several brave OHD rearguard actions this season. And trying to farm the strike, the discarded England opener died himself for 77, missing a chance to carry his racquet for the third time this season.
… but Hants came out even cheaper
That took Hampshire just 139 to win – but it can often be difficult to pursue small goals. And this chase has certainly proven to be the case.
The Bears’ top wicket-taker, Hannon-Dalby, made the first break in the third over when he passed Felix Organ, his 53rd scalp of the season.
And that opened the door for Norwell.
He quickly got rid of fellow opener Ian Holland – and progressed the wickets in just his fourth Championship appearance in an injury-plagued season.
A return of 3-16 from his first cast, then three overs out before returning for a second cast of 6-46, mostly after the tee.
At 91-7 when former Bears all-rounder Keith Barker became his sixth victim, Nick Gubbins and Fuller then laid down what appeared to be a crucial 33 for the eighth wicket.
But a rally – the story of the summer of 2022 – proved key.
On the next ball, Norwell won a generous lbw decision against Gubbins for 46, and although the visitors took it all but one shot to victory, the big paceman then batted twice more in four balls to finish it off.
First he bowled Fuller for 22 and then hit Mohammad Abbas in the leg before finishing 13-100 in the match, also a career best, to bring down the curtain on another pinnacle end to a domestic Red Ball season.
Warwickshire match winner Liam Norwell told BBC Radio WM:
“This morning didn’t go as planned. We wanted to put them a lot more towards 200 but we just had to keep believing and we had great support from the outfield players.
“Olly played an incredible spell to take just one wicket but the crowd was behind us. Just like the last day of last season, they kept us going.
“It’s a day that will be remembered for a long time. I don’t know what I thought at the end. I just went insane. All emotions came out and I was almost in tears.
“It means a lot to me because I feel like I’ve let the lads down because I’ve been injured so many times this season, so I hope it’s repaid them a bit for helping us, upstairs to stay. Now we have to go ahead and make sure we’re not in that position again.”
Hampshire captain James Vince told BBC Radio Solent:
“Liam Norwell cast an amazing spell. Having not played much cricket he has done really well to progress like this.
“Finishing with a couple of losses is disappointing, after all the hard work we put in over the summer and staying so close to Surrey for so long, it’s hard to take when we lost last week.
“But you have to give Warwickshire credit for the spirit they have shown. It shows that you can find that extra level when playing for something like staying in the division. Norwell got the best out of the field so credit goes to him.”
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