Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire, Edgbaston, 2nd day June 30, 2014

Woakes rescues Warks after Trott's progress

Warwickshire 343 (Woakes 91, Wright 64, Adams 4-67, Siddle 4-91) trail Nottinghamshire 406 and 1-0 by 64 runs

There is little than can be predicted with much certainty about the future of Jonathan Trott. But if there is one fact that has been overwhelmingly apparent it is this: wherever and whenever he bats for the rest of his career, he is going to receive a huge amount of short-pitched bowling.

The first ball he faced in this match, his first Championship appearance since returning from a recurrence of his stress-related illness, was a bouncer. And the second. And the third. And all three were bowled by Peter Siddle who was part of the Australia attack that caused Trott such discomfort in the winter.

There is nothing new in this. It was Siddle who bowled the first few deliveries of Trott's Test career and, even then, three of the first four balls he faced were short. Even Marcus North, Australia's offspinner in that game, attempted a bouncer at the start of Trott's innings.

On this occasion, as then, Trott coped pretty well. After ducking the first two balls, he played the third less assuredly, the ball remaining airborne for a little longer than he would have liked. Had Nottinghamshire employed a short-leg, as they surely should have done, it might have been a chance.

They placed one from then on. But Trott looked solid and, in between some sound defensive strokes, unveiled a resounding pull, a hook and a cut off Siddle to suggest that the hours he has spent in the nets with Graham Gooch of late are paying off.

But short-pitched bowling will only ever be part of the challenge and here it was a full ball that accounted for Trott. Falling over into the off side - a fault that has bothered him on and off throughout his career - he was trapped leg before by Andre Adams.

An innings of 23 may not sound like much and Warwickshire could certainly have done with more. But in context, it was a tentative step in the right direction. He still walked into a couple of shots - something he never did when he was at his best - and some might argue that the falling over into the off side is a result of anxiety about the short ball. But after everything that has happened, most observers will be happy simply to see him playing with a smile on his face again.

It will be Trott's reaction to this innings that is key. If he can accept that he was unable to alter the course of the game, if he can accept his new reality as a man feeling his way back into something that once seemed so natural, if he can accept that there will be days when he struggles and that he may never recapture the heights he once scaled, he can go on to play a valuable role for Warwickshire. Anything more is probably unrealistic.

"He looked comfortable," Siddle said afterwards. "On the pitch, it's always a battle, but you want to see him getting back to his best. That ball early on wouldn't have carried to short-leg, anyway.

"We had a chat at lunch on the first day. He seemed happy. It was good to see him back, but it was good to get him pretty early, too, as he can go big. He is some player. I said jokingly, I hope his best isn't against Australia, but it's good to see him out there."

With Trott and the rest of the top-order unable to flourish, Warwickshire were grateful for a ninth-wicket stand of 108 between Chris Woakes and Chris Wright for keeping them in the game. When they came together, Warwickshire were still 30 short of avoiding the follow-on, but both men recorded season's-best innings, eventually taking their team within 63 of Nottinghamshire. It says much about Warwickshire's recent batting problems that it was their first half-century stand in three innings.

In truth, their batting frailty has probably been masked by Varun Chopra for some time. Chopra was the only man to pass 1000 runs for the club in any of the seasons between 2011 and 2013. But now, with him averaging 20.93, Laurie Evans dropped, Ian Westwood injured and Trott currently unable to compensate, there is a vulnerability to the line-up that will see the club recruit new batsmen over the winter.

This Nottinghamshire attack is demanding, though. Although Siddle has yet to take a five-wicket haul, he has taken four wickets in an innings four times and provides the experience and bite to make this attack work as a unit. Adams, now lumbering in off a few paces and clearly in the twilight of his career, remains dangerous with his strong arm and canny thinking, while Luke Fletcher is a nagging, skilful seamer and Harry Gurney provides left-arm variation and a bit of pace.

But as Wright chanced his arm with a counterattacking innings and Woakes played with the calm and class which provided a reminder that, even if he never bowled another ball, he would remain a fine player at this level, their fielding flagged and the weakness in their team - a lack of spin variation and some relatively slow fielders - became apparent. It took the new ball, and a fine delivery from Gurney that nipped away from Woakes, to end the stand.

While disappointed to miss out on his century, it was Woakes' first half-century of the summer. He timed the ball well off his legs, drove nicely and, just as importantly, left and defended as well as anyone in the side.

Earlier Warwickshire polished off the Nottinghamshire innings quickly in the morning session to complete a collapse that had seen their last five wickets fall for the addition of just 10 runs. Nottinghamshire remain in the dominant position, but they will know they have had a couple of opportunities to put this game beyond Warwickshire and failed to take them.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo