Compton holds up Warwickshire
Warwickshire 400 (Troughton 132, Woakes 107, Chopra 93) and 66 for 3 lead Somerset 254 (Compton 73*, Suppiah 54, Patel 7-75) by 212 runs
The fact that there was no play at Trent Bridge should have been a boon for Warwickshire, who began this match with a mere one point advantage over Nottinghamshire at the top of the first division table. It would have proved just that had they made Somerset follow on, as really ought to have been the case. Only Nick Compton, that most consistent of run-makers, prevented this from happening.
It is barely two month since Compton's name was being floated as an England candidate, but it seems much longer: the t20 window and sundry other events have occurred and obscured such thoughts since then.
He had scored 862 championship runs before this match started and added a further unbeaten 73 as he shepherded the middle order and the tail towards reaching the 251 they required to avoid the follow-on.
Somerset accomplished that with two wickets intact, but for much of an unexpectedly sunny day, it had not looked likely. Jeetan Patel, obtaining some turn and occasional bounce from the Pavilion End, took five key wickets through catches close to the bat or, in the case of Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler, in deeper fielding positions through an inability to hit him over the top. Compton's concentration and application remained steadfast throughout it all.
The difficulty Warwickshire now have is self-evident: they lead by 212 with seven wickets remaining but only one day's play remains in a game that was restricted to only 10.4 overs on the first day. They needed to force the follow-on.
If Jim Troughton had not gone to the second ball of the morning, without adding to his overnight 132, or the last two wickets not fallen at the same score, 400, there would in all probability have been enough runs in the bag to achieve it. But all that is hypothetical.
Alfonso Thomas was responsible for this sudden fall of wickets, having Troughton caught behind, aiming to hook, and swiftly accounting for Keith Barker and Patel. His figures of 6 for 60, achieved largely through swinging the ball, equalled the best of his career. When Marcus Trescothick returns, possibly this Sunday in the CB40 match against Durham, Thomas will willingly stand down as temporary skipper.
Of the Somerset batsmen, Arul Suppiah managed to run out Alex Barrow before atoning to some extent with a characteristically stylish half century at almost a run a ball with eight fours and Craig Kieswetter made a brisk 44 before Patel lured him into misguided aggression. Compton was much in need of partners to enable Somerset to reach the follow on target.
Indeed, when Peter Trego fell to Patel's arm ball, caught at slip, and Thomas went the same way, Somerset were still 34 runs short of so doing. Max Waller was then missed off the same bowler when one run was still required. It was only just that the off spinner should take his wicket and then bowl Gemaal Hussain first ball. As for Compton, his championship average for the season now stands at 93.05.
The best option for Warwickshire, it seemed, was to make runs swiftly in the final session and then again in the morning before declaring around lunchtime on the final day. Maybe the best scenario would have been for them to lose wickets quickly because all captains, in the modern mode, delay their declarations too late. The great Garry Sobers, who did exactly the opposite and hence enabled England to win a series in the Caribbean in 1967-8, has something to answer for.
As it was, Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood progressed somewhat conservatively until the latter was out, leg before to Hussain, and two other wickets, including that of the captain, run out for a single, fell besides. Troughton's timing of his declaration on the final day will need to be better than his running between the wickets...