Warwickshire will face Hampshire at Edgbaston tomorrow right up among the Specsavers County Championship leaders after their ten-wicket victory over Surrey at Guildford last week.
The Bears sit third in Division One, level on points with Lancashire and just one point behind leaders Middlesex whose win over champions Yorkshire at Scarborough left a remarkably open title-race more open than ever.
The performance at Guildford delighted director of cricket Dougie Brown as his team closed out victory in three days, earning themselves a very welcome bonus of an unexpected day's break during the most hectic stage of the season.
And while Brown was pleased by what his team did on the field at Woodbridge Road, he was also very impressed by their approach off it - most all during the tea interval on the third day when Surrey, trailing by 172 on first innings, were making a fight of it at 105 for one second time round.
"It was a collectively outstanding performance at Guildford," said the director of cricket. "There were some stand-out individual performances like Jonathan Trott's century and Jeetan Patel taking ten wickets in the match, but around those there were some really important smaller contributions.
"People put together timely partnerships that just kept us in control and guys took wickets at vital times. Every single one of our players had an influence on the match.
"But the best thing of all for me was how the guys reacted when they came in at tea on the third day. Surrey had started their second innings quite well and were past 100 having only lost one wicket, but everyone was very calm and just said 'no worries, let's be patient and keep doing what we're been doing to get into this strong position and it will come.
"It was very impressive to see. There was no frustration, the guys were just very clear about what they needed to do and the approach they had to take. And they went out there and took nine wickets in the final session."
It was highly impressive cricket which brought the Bears their second win of a rain-ravaged championship season. Now, against Hampshire, they will be hunting their first home win of the four-day campaign having built a winning position against Nottinghamshire last time out at Edgbaston only to be thwarted by rain.
Brown expects a tough challenge from Hampshire who are bottom of Division One but with a game or games in hand of all those above them and who showed plenty of resilience at the Riverside last week, piling up 472 for nine as they had the better of a draw with Durham.
"Hampshire are a good side who are scrapping for their lives," said Brown. "They beat us last season when they were in a similar position so we know we will have to be at our best. We need to play sustained good cricket, get ourselves into a strong position and then maintain the pressure like we did at Guildford."
- Ian Bell (Captain)
- Tim Ambrose (Wicket-Keeper)
- Keith Barker
- Varun Chopra
- Rikki Clarke
- Laurie Evans
- Sam Hain
- Oliver Hannon-Dalby
- Jeetan Patel
- Josh Poysden
- Boyd Rankin
- Jonathan Trott
- Andy Umeed