Briggs brilliance keeps Warwickshire on track for Championship title

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A gutsy all-round display from Danny Briggs kept Warwickshire in the hunt for their first championship title in nine years — just as it seemed to be slipping out of their hands.

With Somerset closing the second day on 239 for five, trailing by 128, there is still work to do if Warwickshire are to win this game on a decent Edgbaston surface.

But without Briggs, who joined from Sussex over the winter in search of more red-ball opportunities, they would now be reliant on Lancashire beating Hampshire at Liverpool.

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At 322 for nine, a collapse from their overnight 283 for four, they were in danger of falling short of the 350 they needed to collect four batting points and stay in control of their destiny.

With time running out and only last man Craig Miles for company, Briggs battered the first three balls of the 110th over, bowled by Somerset’s Jack Brooks, for four, four and six to reach the mini-target with three deliveries to spare. Briefly, Edgbaston echoed to the cry of ‘You Bears!’

Craig Overton polished off the innings soon after to finish with five for 88, all taken on the second morning, but not before Briggs, batting at No 9, had completed a remarkable 30-ball half-century.

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‘It was forced upon me,’ he said modestly. ‘When it’s nine down, you’ve got nothing to lose. It was a free go, really.’

That still left Warwickshire with the task of dismissing Somerset twice, but the 30-year-old Briggs prised out two important wickets with his left-arm spin — the skill that earned him eight white-ball caps for England between 2012 and 2014.

First he caught the dangerous Tom Lammonby off his own bowling for 59 to end a second-wicket stand of 68 with Azhar Ali. Then he added the wicket of Lewis Goldsworthy, caught at mid-off by England’s Chris Woakes for 13.

Earlier, Woakes had bowled opener Ben Green for 14 with a beauty, while Tim Bresnan held a return catch to send back Azhar for 60.

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In between, Liam Norwell had Somerset captain Tom Abell caught behind for 14 as Warwickshire chipped away. The second new ball, due early this morning, could prove crucial as they go in search of three bowling points.

Meanwhile, former West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels, 40, has been charged by the ICC with four breaches of their anti-corruption code relating to the 2019 Abu Dhabi T10 competition.

Among the charges, Samuels — who last played international cricket in late 2018 — is accused of failing to disclose the receipt of ‘any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit… that could bring cricket into disrepute’, and obstructing the investigation.

In 2008, Samuels was banned for two years for an earlier breach of the code. He has 14 days to respond to the latest charges.

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