Trott grinds Sussex into the sea
Sussex 57 for 2 trail Warwickshire 545 (Trott 178, Chopra 105, Clarke 78*) by 488 runs
Warwickshire's attempts to grind their way to the championship title narrowly failed last season when they couldn't take the seven Hampshire wickets they needed on the final day at West End. They have analysed their shortcomings, searched their soul and come up with a solution: they will grind once more, only this time they will grind even more severely.
With 281 for 5 banked on the opening day, and grim weather forecast for Sunday, Jonathan Trott had vaguely floated the suggestion that in essence Warwickshire were left trying to win a three-day game. Trott has never been accused of being a reckless gambler, far from it, so it seemed that a dash to a lunchtime declaration might be in the offing. It was not to be the case. Instead, they batted on to 545, the highest total of a season where large scores have been few and far between.
Warwickshire batted until tea, adding another 264 in 65.5 overs, achieving a rate of four an over with barely a care in the world. Trott, now confirmed as an international batsman of repute, advanced phlegmatically from 132 to 178, his superiority calmly reasserted, his only awkward moment coming when he survived an lbw appeal on the back foot against Monty Panesar.
He fell at slip, on what proved to be the last ball before lunch, driving expansively at Chris Nash and edging to Mike Yardy so ending a stay of nearly seven hours in which he cemented Warwickshire's place as championship leaders. On his first championship appearance of the season, he looked relaxed and contented, the only England batsman who has emerged from a difficult winter confident about the nuts and bolts of his game.
Sussex had proudly announced their membership of the Crimestoppers' Golden Handcuff Club, demonstrating their commitment to helping reduce crime in Sussex. To mark their involvement, the crime novelist Peter James handed over a pair of handcuffs at the ground. Had they managed to entice Trott over to take a look at them, they might have found a way to keep him in check.
It all ended at tea on the second day when Jeetan Patel clubbed Nash to short midwicket. Until then, Warwickshire dipped their bread. Tim Ambrose, struck on the hand by James Anyon, an incident that raised false hopes that the second-day pitch might turn spiteful, batted nearly three hours for 75, Rikki Clarke more than two hours for 78 not out. Clarke at No. 9, even if he was a place lower than expected because of a nightwatchman, was a reminder that no county bats deeper. An air of resignation hung over the Sussex attack.
The final session had the makings of an awkward one for Sussex. They have been second best throughout the game but they only lost two wickets and will reason that the weather will probably get them out of this one. Varun Chopra held a quick chance to his right at first slip as Keith Barker found Nash's edge and also struck Ed Joyce on the helmet as he ducked into one. Patel's off-spin had Ed Joyce lbw in his first over but Luke Wells and Murray Goodwin survived until the close. They need another 339 to avoid the follow-on. That or a torrential downpour.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo