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28 October 2014
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Cricket


Triumphant Warwickshire in 2004
Triumphant Warwickshire in 2004

Almost 200 years of greatness

County champions Warwickshire County Cricket Club, although based in Birmingham, are firmly a part of Warwickshire's heritage.


Led by captain Nick Knight, the Bears regained the title of best county side in 2004, ten years on from when they last lifted the trophy.

In the beginning

It was Wellesbourne Cricket Club who, in 1826, called itself Warwickshire and played on land near Warwick Racecourse, before heading back to Wellesbourne village.

The first documented match by the Warwickshire side took place in 1843. The team took on Leicester at Gosford Green in Coventry, which is now Highfield Road - the home of Coventry City Football Club. Warwickshire won by eight wickets.

The famous gates of Edgbaston
The famous gates of Edgbaston

In 1882 the present Warwickshire County Cricket Club was formed under the guidance of Birmingham teacher William Ansell and after much discussion it was decided the new HQ should be in Birmingham.

Edgbaston was opened in 1886 with a showpiece match against an MCC side. The ground hosted its first Test match in 1902 when England played Australia.

First taste of county success

Warwickshire took the county championship for the first time in 1911. Under the captaincy of Frank Foster, they had an outstanding season with Foster leading by example by scoring 1,383 runs (average 44.61) and taking 116 wickets.

But the side had to wait until 1951 to win their second championship.

Frank Foster
Frank Foster

Seamer Charlie Groves said goodbye to the club by making his benefit season the first in which he bagged 100 runs.

His final tally was 103 wickets taken, for an average of 18.78.

In 1972, West Indian bowler Lance Gibbs took 50 wickets in his farewell season, helping Warwickshire to another championship title.

A period of domination

Warwickshire made history in 1994 by taking three out of the four domestic trophies.
They could have bagged the first ever grand slam but for a narrow defeat in the Nat West Trophy final at Lord's.

Dermot Reeve
Dermot Reeve

Although the titles were a real team effort, batsman Brian Lara proved the star of the show with a season full of records.

The West Indian ace will perhaps be best remembered for his unbeaten 501 against hapless Durham at Edgbaston.

In 1995 Dermot Reeve ensured he would go down in history as one of the greatest Warwickshire skippers of all time as the team took their fifth and sixth titles in two years.

The team won the championship for a second successive season and captured the Natwest Trophy with a win over Northants.

The treble was missed by a whisker in the final of the AXA League Trophy final. South African Allan Donald cemented his position in the all-time great fast bowlers list by devastating batsmen from all counties. He finished the season with 89 wickets from 500 overs of cricket, with an average of 16.07.

Allan Donald
Allan Donald

In 1997 Warwickshire won the English National One Day League (then the AXA Sunday League). In the same year, Edgbaston hosted the first ever floodlit evening game in England.

In 1999 The team found itself in Division Two of the county championship as the competition split into two leagues for the first time. By 2001, the club managed promotion to Division One, under the captaincy of Michael Powell. Warwickshire finished third in their first season in division one of the Norwich Union One Day League and reached the semi-final of the C & G Trophy to Somerset.

The new generation

Nick Knight
Nick Knight

Twenty/20 cricket was born in 2003 and the Bears took to the competition like a duck to water. Despite condemnation from purists of the game, the competition brought crowds flocking to the often sparsely populated grounds, and Warwickshire made it to the final held at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge but eventually lost out to Surrey.

It was a season of mixed fortune in 2004 under new captain, the former England batsman Nick Knight. Despite winning the county championship with a relatively low number of victories, the Bears were relegation from the top division of the National League. The year also saw a return to first class cricket in Stratford. Warwickshire played Lancashire at the Swans Nest Lane ground and it proved to be a success.

Stratford are holding a festival cricket in May 2005 which will take in a county championship match against Hampshire as well as a Totesport league match with Scotland on the Whitsun bank-holiday weekend.

last updated: 14/04/05
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