Troughton helps Warwickshire edge day
Warwickshire 299 for 7 (Troughton 84) v Durham
Jim Troughton is a player whom those loosely following the county game might need reminding of. A mention of his name might provoke a double raised eyebrow.
It's been a while since Troughton was in the wider public conscious; a decade since the grandson of Doctor Who played for England. His international career, six ODIs, may have alighted and fizzled out as quickly as a faulty sparkler but Troughton has continued to serve his county very well, now as captain.
He has never bettered his first full season in county cricket. 1,067 runs at 50.80 in 2002 were not a precursor to the international careers his Warwickshire colleagues Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott have enjoyed but a sign of talent that could be productive in the county game for many years.
Troughton's 84 on the first day against Durham was a captain's innings by the dictionary definition; a carefully crafted, mature innings that his side needed to get the better of the day. He was made to work hard and forced to rebuild with five different partners as Warwickshire failed to produce a stand to really hurt Durham.
"Me and Laurie had a good stand and that was the chance to make a really big partnership," Troughton said of the 77 he and Laurie Evans added for the fourth wicket. "We had a couple of other partnerships that would been nice to capitalise on but it was actually hard to score as the ball got soft. Even though it's a nice-paced wicket, it was hard to pierce the field and my dismissal I just got a bit greedy with and tried to hit it for four.
"Being put in and making 300 we are happy. We're probably a couple of wickets down more than we would have liked but we've still got two guys in that can score big runs so tomorrow morning will be a big session for us. I still think we're capable of making 400."
For two sessions it appeared Warwickshire were on their way to a score that could take control of the game. At 188 for 3 shortly before tea, Paul Collingwood might have been regretting his decision to bowl first. A braver captain might have paid less attention to the thick cloud cover. But with bowlers that are especially productive at this time of year, he would justifiably argue that he was playing to his side's strengths.
There was a little moisture under the surface and there was a little swing in the air but 91 for 2 at lunch represented a poor morning for Durham. They hadn't bowled badly but the batsman had watched and left well, particularly Ian Westwood who had looked very solid until Chris Rushworth shaped a full ball past his off-drive.
Westwood's dismissal was indicative of the day. Will Porterfield, Evans and Tim Ambrose also got themselves settled only to get out. Partnerships grew and then disappeared like the afternoon sunshine that threatened a lovely day before being smothered by cloud that was directed by stiff gusts that had players chasing their caps all day.
Durham were delighted at Porterfield chopping Rushworth to point and Evans driving very loosely, edging Calum Thorp to slip. They were wickets that balanced the day before Durham threatened to win it after tea with 3 for 3 in four overs.
Ambrose chopped on, Rikki Clarke - hit on the head first ball - cut a wide Will Smith ball and edged to the keeper and when Troughton chipped a catch to mid on, the scoreboard was closer to what Collingwood had hoped for. But Warwickshire's much-vaunted lower-order began their work and a well-timed cut from Keith Barker and a classic cover drive from Chris Woakes hinted at what might be to come.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo