Valuable runs for Trott and Bell
Warwickshire 267 for 5 (Trott 65, Bell 62, Evans 59, Ambrose 55) trail Middlesex 428 for 5 dec (Robson 215*) by 161 runs
For Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, there were runs aplenty before having to contend with New Zealand - half-centuries, indeed, off Steven Finn among others. In a match that has been affected by the weather, they and Sam Robson's double-century are likely to prove the most memorable achievements, assuming Warwickshire gain the 12 runs they require to avoid the follow on.
Perhaps something can still be fashioned by the captains. Middlesex declared at their overnight score of 428 for 5, as really they had to do after only 39 overs were bowled on the second day, and much of the subsequent cricket centred around the batting of Laurie Evans and Trott. Steadfast stuff, as might be imagined.
Evans, whose opener partner, Will Porterfield, was caught at second slip off Corey Collymore, had made 59 with seven fours - all technically correct solid defence and the occasional shot of attacking intent - when he had to retire after being struck on the left hand by Finn. The England fast bowler had resorted to the short ball against him, able as he was to extract some life out of this even-paced pitch.
An X-ray revealed his hand to have been broken. Finn, by any standards, was quick, and altogether a different proposition from facing the disciplined Tim Murtagh and the mixed medium pace of Collymore, Gareth Berg and Neil Dexter. Trott played him admirably, characteristically driving him off his hip to the midwicket boundary to reach a half century off 97 balls. It was his ninth four.
Trott had played that same consummate shot off Berg and, indeed, nothing appeared more probable than that he would reach three figures in this, the match that marks the tenth anniversary since his debut for Warwickshire. He had reached 65 when Murtagh, who always seems to maintain an straight line, moved one away sufficiently to have him taken at first slip.
Bell, given some classy support from Tim Ambrose after Jim Troughton had turned Murtagh straight to leg slip - good field placing, this, by Chris Rogers - timed his drives about as well as a batsman can in early May. There were six fours in his half century and eight in all in his innings of 62.
About the highest praise that could be bestowed on Ambrose was that his batting did not suffer by comparison. Indeed, he reached a half-century of his own a ball quicker than Bell had done and survived for longer. Bell was leg-before to Collymore, falling over slightly as the ball appeared to keep a little low.
For much of a murky day the floodlights were on. Play would largely have been impossible without them; hence the worth of such investment. Arching in towards the middle, they do not look out of place. Items to show off amid some concern about the comment last week of Derek Brewer, the secretary of MCC, who regards the Ageas Bowl at Southampton as posing a greater threat to Lord's retaining two Tests a summer than Edgbaston. There is a need to provide a compelling argument for more Test cricket here given nothing is scheduled for this year.