That Warwickshire remain in the hunt for their eighth County Championship and the first since 2012 owes much to the all-round talents of Danny Briggs, a cricketer who joined from Sussex last winter determined to shake off the notion his future lay solely in the white-ball formats.
The 30-year-old looked a shrewd acquisition for a club left with a significant void to fill after Jeetan Patel hung up his spikes. On the second day of the season finale at home against Somerset he emphatically underlined this, carving a 29-ball half-century from No 9 before lunch to secure a precious fourth batting point, and then winkling out two key wickets with his left-arm spin.
It meant that when the players and umpires walked off at stumps after a day of sparkling September sunshine and toil out in the middle, Somerset were 239 for five from 77 overs and Warwickshire, having earlier posted 367 all out, could sleep easier knowing that events up at Aigburth need not necessarily matter.
Will Rhodes and his bowlers still require five wickets inside 110 overs to keep it this way, and then there is the small matter of going on to claim victory. But with the second new ball around the corner, and opponents playing just for pride and a dash of extra prize money should they claim fifth spot, the sense of optimism in south Birmingham appears to be growing.
Warwickshire started the day on 283 for four needing 67 runs in 14 overs to keep their destiny in their own hands. Craig Overton was bowling like a man who had pressed the espresso button on the coffee machine a good few times at breakfast, however, wiping out Sam Hain without adding to his overnight 83 amid a three-wicket burst. At 304 for eight in the 105th over, the equation was an unlikely-looking 46 required off 32 balls.
What followed was breathtaking, Briggs giving his opponents a reminder of the defeat by Kent on Saturday on this ground in the T20 Blast final with a bravura display of hitting. It began with a scooped four off Josh Davey followed by a glorious flicked six. And though he lost Liam Norwell, who holed out off Overton, in Craig Miles he found a No 11 with a solid defence.
The pair chiselled away a succession of ones and twos to see Briggs head into the 110th over needing 11 runs with the field spread to all parts. It took just three deliveries, Jack Brooks crashed through cover for four, guided past backward point for another and then whipped over the midwicket boundary. By the time Miles became Overton’s fifth wicker, Briggs had hammered a third six to bring up his third half-century of the season to finish unbeaten on 53.
Patience was always going to be required with the ball, even if Chris Woakes struck before lunch by bowling Ben Green for 14 with a beauty that nipped away. And in Tom Lammonby and the experienced Azhar Ali they met stiff resistance, the former looking in fine touch after his century against Lancashire last week had lifted the gloom of a tough second season.
Lammonby took a liking to Briggs in particular but was stopped in his tracks by a fine caught and bowled from the left-armer on 59. With Norwell then removing Tom Abell caught behind, Somerset went into tea on 139 for three and looking for Azhar, unbeaten on 37, to turn his foundation into an innings of substance.
Instead the former Pakistan captain fell for 60, Tim Bresnan conjuring up an edge to first slip, with Briggs then profiting from a rush of blood from Lewis Goldsworthy on 13. Steven Davies finessed a stylish unbeaten 48 before the close but Briggs, presented with his Warwickshire cap first-thing, owned the day.