VIEW FROM THE BLUES: Warwickshire defeat the latest embarrassment for Northants


So how long until Steeler wobbles out to bat for Northants?

Things have got so bad in the championship the mascot mutt must be in consideration, another almighty thumping at the County Ground this week meaning a flip of a coin between him and the usual suspects for the four-day match with Lancashire at Old Trafford next week.

I’m told Steeler doesn’t travel well on the bus due to his big feet and floppy ears, so maybe there will be one more reprieve.

The batting had to be reworked to stand any chance in the Warwickshire match and the solution was to go with Richard Levi over Ian Butler and Rob Keogh over David Sales, setting up the County for their first championship hundred of the campaign, and highest partnership of the season.

They also managed only their second 300 total of the year after winning the toss at a County Ground smothered in the melancholy of low grey cloud and some wailing saxophone wafting over the wall.

Chunky South African Levi is at home at this level and made the difference, a solid 43 off his likewise bat giving confidence to those around him to get a start.

But the star of the show was young Rob Newton with that crisp century; a young man the fans know will be at home in the top league, with or without Northamptonshire.

It was just a matter of time for the hundred.

A slightly weakened Warwickshire attack tried not to give him the width he feasts off, but he punished them square all the same with a star burst of boundaries.

Andrew Hall also produced his best score of the season with 45 in that partnership of 129 with Newton.

If the batting was bolstered by Levi, it meant the bowling was further weakened by no Butler, not a nice thought.

Warwickshire glided through the second day to finish on 278 for four in overcast conditions, which the home team failed to exploit.

But the now perfunctory 400 by the opposition has quickly moved to 600, after two 500s against Yorkshire and Sri Lanka.

It’s embarrassing stuff, with the Northants attack smashed all around the park by an 18-year-old Australian called Sam Hain with 134 (the youngest ever championship centurion for Warwickshire) and a meaty ton for the rather cumbersome Barker.

Warwickshire went from 370 for seven at lunch to a record 602 for nine declared late after tea (comfortably the Bears’ highest score against us) effectively saw the tail add 250 in as many balls.

This is the sort of performance captains resign over, and this can’t be good for anyone’s health if it continues.

The team was quiet on the pitch, and the fielding positions unproductive under Stephen Peters’ leadership.

Performances may not improve under a new captain, but maybe Peters would relax more and get runs if he did decide to step down at any point.

His slap to gully for his four-minute innings before the close to leave the county at 51 for three was not exactly the required example to set for the other 10 batsmen shaking in the hut.

I suppose James Middlebrook could take over as skipper until the end of the season, with Alex Wakely doing the job next year, but I’m certainly not calling for Peters to go.

What I am calling for is his team-mates to help him to stay!

The crowd didn’t boo or whistle at one of Northants’ worse days for a while, but a simple silence and a splutter of applause for every Warwickshire boundary told its own story.

It’s almost as if the players want the jeers so they can pull themselves out of this malaise they seem to be hiding in, and they also must be confused why they are not being held to account for their poor form.

The match was done and dusted by tea on the final day, a familiar story, the batsmen simply accepting their fate of relegation, and so why bother putting in that extra to make their innings last?

Middlebrook top scored as per usual with a 50, and Matt Spriegel bravely dug in against hostile bowling and batted like he does in every game, not great at getting it off the square and very much a blocker.

His four hour 42 was exactly what was required though, as the remaining middle order selfishly entertained themselves in brilliant sunshine by trying to smack some sixes over the close field.

Spriegel is working hard but I just don’t think he has enough game for the first-class stuff. Not that I am an expert or anything. The London Cup will be more his thing.

There is simply no escape from the quality of bowling in Division One and you have to be at 100 per cent concentration levels to survive out there.

Graeme White must be seriously regretting making the move to Northampton and is surely the better option now as the spinning option.

Why they won’t use him and James Kettleborough in the championship now the battle is lost is baffling.

A total of 185 all out was the same old story, as Chris Woakes proved his England credentials with four for 87 and then four for 53, a common thread this season against Northants for the current England attack.

The Northants batsmen have effectively picked that England bowling line up with a collapse or two in the round of matches just before the Test team is picked.