Warwickshire dominate BWT final to leave Lancashire at risk of record defeat

If you’ve ever ploughed through a plate of cold chips just for the sake of it, you’ve perfected the correct approach to the third day of the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s.

A day that started with Warwickshire sitting pretty on a lead of 386, ended with Lancashire wobbling on the edge of defeat. They were still 269 runs behind with just four second-innings wickets in hand when the light, which had barely raised itself above elephantine grey all day, finally dropped below the required level on the umpires’ light meters.

Lancashire’s heaviest previous defeat was by an innings and 220 by West Indies in 1950, the match where Alf Valentine clinched his place in the Test team after taking 13 wickets on an Old Trafford pitch resembling a dust heap. Yorkshire handed out Lancashire’s most crushing defeat by a county, again at Old Trafford, this time by an innings and 200 runs in 1938. Hedley Verity was then the terminator, trousering five for 21 in the second innings.

There were no such stand-out performances on Thursday, which is fitting for a Warwickshire attack that throughout the season has worked as a team, chipping in when it mattered. Liam Norwell removed the dangerous George Balderson and Josh Bohannon, while Craig Miles, Tim Bresnan and Danny Briggs all picked up a wicket each, the most curious Steven Croft, who appeared to miss a screeching turner from Briggs, which fell into the hands of Bresnan at first slip, but still turned on his heel and headed for the hills. Alex Davies was the first man to fall, run out springing for a quick single in his final innings for Lancashire.

“We’re pretty happy,” said Norwell who picked up his 50th first-class wicket for the season during the day.

“Whenever you’re playing at Lord’s with the chance to win a trophy you’ve got to have a smile on your face. It was the first time my long-sleeved jumper has come out since Durham away, which was one of the first games of the year, but how often do you get the opportunity to play at Lord’s and especially when we’ve already won one trophy and to add a second to it? No one gave us a chance at the start of the season to be in this position so the fact we are, there is just a great mood in the camp.”

Balderson, 21, who top scored for Lancashire with 65, revealed that the trip down was his first time in London. “It was amazing to be here at Lord’s,” he said, zipped into his puffa jacket. “I’ve never been here before so to spend a bit of time in the middle was pleasing, though obviously the game situation hasn’t gone our way. All the history, sitting in the changing room, seeing the honours board in the away changing room. It is one of the first things I did when I got here, spent 10 minutes reading all the names, it is a special place.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s managing director of county cricket, Neil Snowball, meanwhile, has confirmed that the Royal London Cup will again be played at the same time as The Hundred but that, unlike the random Thursday allocated in 2021, the 2022 final will be played at Trent Bridge on a Saturday in September. He also committed to playing the T20 Blast in one block, starting towards the end of May and concluding in mid-July with finals day at Edgbaston. There was also confirmation that the ECB are still to receive a copy of the Azeem Rafiq report from Yorkshire.