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Jon Culley at Aigburth
August 2, 2011
Lancashire 189 and 32 for 0 v Warwickshire 280
As an England selector, Ashley Giles has every reason to be thrilled with England's exhilarating rise towards the top in Test cricket, even though in his day job, as Warwickshire's director of cricket, he has to manage without Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. He must be delighted, in particular, to see Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan in such fine form with bat and ball.
The bonus in their impressive multi-tasking contributions is that Warwickshire's budding all-rounder, Chris Woakes, while still on England's radar, has probably slipped back in status to 'one for the future' rather than someone with more immediate prospects of a Test call-up.
This seemed to be confirmed by his omission from the England Lions side playing Sri Lanka A at Scarborough, a fixture that has been greeted with mixed feelings by quite a few counties, depriving them of key players as the Championship moves towards the business end.
It has been difficult in particular, for instance, for Nottinghamshire's Mick Newell, who coached the Lions in the Caribbean last winter. He has had to take on leaders Durham with a trialist and a debutant on board in place of Alex Hales and Samit Patel. Yorkshire, fighting relegation, are playing Hampshire at the Rose Bowl without Jonathan Bairstow and Joe Root.
In the event, the decision not to pick Woakes, who deputised so ably for the injured Broad in England's one-day sides in Australia in the winter, was a bonus for Giles, who as an England selector himself is hardly in a position to talk down his man's claims. Having taken three key wickets on day one, the 22-year-old top scored with 60 to give Warwickshire an advantage that might be critical in their bid to win the game and displace Lancashire in second place in the table.
Given the circumstances, with the ball swinging when the cloud cover thickened and the pitch offering bounce at one end and spin at the other, it was an innings with the maturity of an older player, although that hardly came as a surprise to Giles.
"He is incredibly mature for his years and goes from strength to strength really and I see him as a genuine all-rounder, which might be his best route into the higher level," Giles said.
"He learns very quickly, picks up on everything you tell him and has a lot of ability with the bat and the ball."
Giles confirmed that care is being taken with the workload placed on Woakes after sore shins kept him out of cricket for a month between mid-May and mid-June but said his omission from the Lions had more to do with the type of players England wanted to look at in the Scarborough match.
"We are having to monitor his workloads carefully after his injury. He is our go-to bowler because of his quality and ability but we have to be careful with him as well.
"There was a possibility he would play for the Lions but we know a lot about what he can do and the side selected is a bit of a mixture of guys who are ready to go straight in and guys we wanted to have a look at, the likes of (Stewart) Meaker and (Jade) Dernbach in a four-day game.
"People are always grumbling about me being a selector but I am only one of four full-time selectors and Dave Parsons (the ECB's performance director) had a say as well."
The day had begun with Warwickshire 30 for 1 and ended with Lancashire pondering what might have been had Saj Mahmood not had one of those days that have coaches tearing out their hair.
The tall fast-bowler can be devastatingly brilliant at times and it seemed it might be his day when his first delivery sent Jim Troughton's stumps splaying in all directions, leaving a bemused batsman wondering what happened.
What had happened, unfortunately for Mahmood, is that he had overstepped and the wicket did not count. And it was not the first time he would hear 'no ball' called as he began to pull up in his follow-through.
By the time he had finished for the day, the sometimes England bowler had been no-balled no fewer than 12 times and his 12 overs had cost 86 runs, even though he had picked up a couple of good wickets when Laurie Evans was leg before to one that nipped back and Rikki Clarke to another that was full and straight.
Troughton, who was on four when he was castled, profited from the reprieve, holding the innings together for almost 40 overs until, one short of what would have been a deserved half-century, he launched into a ball from Tom Smith that asked to be hit but succeeded only in hitting straight to cover, where Mark Chilton did well to hold the catch given the speed at which the ball was travelling.
Along the way, as well as surviving Evans and Clarke, Troughton had seen Will Porterfield lbw playing across one from Kyle Hogg and Tim Ambrose caught behind off the same bowler when he thin-edged an ugly slash.
Keith Barker made sound progress until he was caught at backward short leg as Gary Keedy began to find some turn and it was disappointing that Woakes's innings also ended tamely when he also hit straight to cover, off Keedy.
By then, however, Warwickshire were 62 in front and another flurry of runs from Jeetan Patel stretched the advantage to 91 before Paul Horton and Stephen Moore negotiated the last hour to cut the deficit by 32.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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