Lancashire 291 (Croft 90, Norwell 5-78) and 5-0 (Wells 2*, Jennings 1*) need 324 runs to beat Warwickshire 292 and 327 for 9 dec (Davies 121, Brookes 55)
Davies defied his old team mates to make 121 (211 balls, 12 fours, one six), his first ton for the Bears, and tilt a terrific, fluctuating game narrowly his side’s way.
His skilful work lifted Warwickshire to 327 for nine declared, setting a victory target of 329 (they suffered a five-run penalty for Henry Brookes running down the pitch while batting). The visitors reached five without loss in four overs before the close.
Heading into the final day, all four results remain possible. While events at Trent Bridge this week have underlined the glory of Test cricket, Warwickshire and Lancashire have unfurled an utterly compelling, great advert for the County Championship at Edgbaston.
After Lancashire resumed on the third morning on 280 for nine, Norwell, in his first game back after injury, had Matt Parkinson caught behind off his first ball. The wicket took Norwell’s first-class tally for Warwickshire to 79 at 19.17 piece – he remains very much on England’s radar.
Lancashire’s seamers then showed their quality. Tom Bailey hit the top of Dom Sibley’s off stump and George Balderson bowled Rob Yates with a beauty. Warwickshire advanced to 83 for two but were then rocked by a post-lunch blitz of three for four in 14 balls by Will Williams.
The Kiwi’s third ball of the afternoon was a ferocious in-ducker which trapped Sam Hain lbw and his fifth darted back to bowl Will Rhodes, offering no shot. When Matt Lamb was bowled through a big drive, Warwickshire were 95 for five.
Davies and Michael Burgess (46, 71 balls) started the recovery with a stand of 70 in 22 overs before the latter edged a perfectly-shaped outswinger from Bailey. When Danny Briggs chipped Williams to mid-wicket, it was 195 for seven and Advantage Lancashire.
But Davies remained resolute and enjoyed aggressive support from Brookes who breezed to a 65-ball half-century. Both fell on the offensive in the closing overs but there was still time for Norwell to collect a perky unbeaten 36 (32 balls) before the declaration. Williams (four for 70) and Bailey (three for 70) were the pick of a weary but for a long time impressive attack.