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Jon Culley at Edgbaston
April 13, 2013
Warwickshire 201 for 4 (Chopra 76, Westwood 56) drew with Derbyshire 226 (Palladino 68, Patel 3-37, Wright 3-48)
In five months' time, this match will almost certainly be nothing but a distant, watery memory, with little bearing on anything that happened in between. Yet Warwickshire were unable to avoid some sense of frustration. Not only were they denied the chance to take full advantage of what may be the weakest opponent they will face in defence of their title, picking up a paltry four bonus points, they had also to swallow the news that Sussex, Durham and Middlesex had picked their way through the gloom and the puddles to register first-round wins.
"It is frustrasting," the Warwickshire captain, Jim Troughton said. "Looking at the state of the game, we knew that their score was under par and that after the start our openers gave us we would back ourselves to bat big and have another go at them. But there is a long season ahead of us and if we keep playing solid cricket the points will take care of themselves.
"You'd like to start with a win but you can't do it if you can't get on the field. I feel sorry for Gary [Barwell], the groundsman. He had to get the ark out last year and he's needed a snowplough this time."
At least there was encouragement to draw, not least in the increasing reliability of the opening batsmen, Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood, who compiled their sixth century partnership in their last 12 matches together.
"They have become so important," Troughton said. "Early season it is commonplace to see three or four wickets down before lunch. The ball is going to nibble, as it has done in the other games in this round. So if you've got a partnership at the top of the order, with the consistency they have together, and with the batting we have to follow, you have the chance to put big totals on the board.
"Chops and Westy know each other's games really well and they are a left-hand, right-hand combination, which is good. Age-wise they have a lot of growth left in them as a partnership. I still think Westy is improving and Chops seems to go away every winter and come back a better player.
"He's got 1,000 runs two years in a row and if he keeps playing as he is he will be knocking on the door for England. While he is playing for Warwickshire he is challenging himself to keep improving.
"Westy and myself were perhaps the two players whose form hit a consistent vein in the second half of last season and it is good for us that he and Chops seem to be continuing where they left off."
Their progress to 139 on the last day here, before Westwood sliced a drive to backward point off Tim Groenewald, served to reinforce Derbyshire's coach Karl Krikken's point of view that Division One will be an unforgiving environment for his Division Two title-winners.
"In both divisions you aim to make as few mistakes as possible because mistakes get punished," he said. "Last season we didn't make many mistakes but in this game we have been a bit lacking in some areas and we just have to up it a little bit next time."
Groenewald's breakthrough gave him the honour of taking the first Division One wicket by a Derbyshire player since Kevin Dean against Somerset in September 2000. It sparked a Warwickshire collapse of sorts, as the champions sought to up the tempo. William Porterfield drove Wes Durston's offspin straight to short extra-cover, Chopra edged behind as Chesney Hughes gave his left-arm spin a dusting down, then Troughton, advancing down the wicket, was stumped after reaching for his shot as Durston bowled wide of the stumps. A boundary from Laurie Evans snatched a first batting point just before lunch -- then rain intervened for the final time.
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