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Monday, October 18, 2021

Rob Yates, Dom Sibley bore for glory as Warwickshire take victory shot seriously


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Slow grind towards 296-run target makes for a day for the purists at Edgbaston

Warwickshire 116 and 139 for 2 (Yates 70*, Sibley 47) require a further 157 runs to beat Hampshire 89 and 322 (Barker 75, Norwell 4-72)

TS Eliot’s J Alfred Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons. At Edgbaston, Dom Sibley and Rob Yates preferred to measure theirs out in dot balls. Prufrock reflected upon the mundanity of his measured existence. Sibley and Yates took pride in theirs and reckoned that the boredom they felt obliged to impose on the world might bring Warwickshire a Championship. You have to be a serious-minded sort to enjoy either.

Professional sport provides entertainment as a by-product and as a consequence some of the worthiest days can be unbearably tedious. This was one of them: entirely justifiable, eminently responsible, but mind-numbingly boring for all but the most committed county diehards. There were a couple of hundred of them around Edgbaston, which glinted harshly, unforgivingly, on a stultifying September day, and when their watching was done, and they shook themselves down, Warwickshire had plodded to 139 for 2 in 67 overs on a dead surface, roughly two runs an over and almost halfway towards the 296 they need for victory. Since 20 wickets fell on the first day, the tone had certainly shifted.

Hampshire are likely to contest the final day without Mohammad Abbas, who turned in figures of 10-6-8-0 then 10 minutes before tea went lame halfway down his run-up, hobbled over the crease and fell to the ground clutching an injured ankle. He is not expected to reappear. Considering that blow, their own perseverance with the ball also stood out.
Their most potent threat could come from the left-arm spinner, Liam Dawson, who has found slow turn and could benefit from the footholes of the left-armer Keith Barker. He has taken both Warwickshire wickets to fall – Sibley and Chris Benjamin – and he might have added Yates shortly before the close, on 60, if James Vince had held a decent opportunity at slip.

Sibley, dropped by England after the first two Tests against India, does not appear to have responded by exploring his more frivolous side. His suspicious forward pushes and sculpted leave-alones should have been watched to the soundtrack of Gorecki’s Sorrowful Song symphony, once nominated as the dullest piece of music of all time – although probably by someone who loves the Hundred.

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