Chopra, Trott keep contest even
Warwickshire 163 for 3 (Chopra 81, Trott 62*) trail Sussex 413 by 250 runs
With pitches such a talking point over the last two weeks, it is only right to commend the one here at Horsham. Offering bounce for the seamers and turn for the spinners, while also rewarding patience from the batsmen, the surface puts those of some full-time county grounds to shame.
After a flurry of wickets on the first evening, credit, too, to Ben Brown and James Tredwell this morning for applying themselves to the tune of 71 runs for the eighth Sussex wicket. Had they folded early, with Keith Barker testing both with movement through the air, then Warwickshire would have ended day two in a far stronger position. As it is, Sussex were able to add 97 runs in the morning session to take them past 400 before the 110th over, giving them a fourth batting point.
After lunch, Boyd Rankin cleaned up the last two wickets, trapping Brown lbw and dismantling Lewis Hatchett's stumps. Some joy for him after being smarted earlier on for three consecutive fours by Tredwell. It summed up the balance nicely.
And yet, Horsham came close to not being able to put on this match because of a lack of a lead sponsor. However, an anonymous backer came in - it is not known whether he is even a Sussex member - to ensure this week went ahead.
"Come on the mystery benefactor," was the cry from Chris Nash to Steve Magoffin, the ball after the Australian seamer had sent Ian Westwood on his way for the first Warwickshire wicket. The talk in the Sussex dressing room leading up to the game was that Magoffin dipped into his own pocket to ensure this Horsham fixture went ahead; after all, it was he who benefited most from last year's fixture, with match figures of 12 for 31 as Somerset were skittled out twice in less than two days.
However, his first wicket here - a ball that Westwood could only prod through to Chris Jordan at first slip - was one of few deliveries from him that went to hand after finding the batsman's edge. In the first over, those in the cordon were hopping around as the ball fizzed off Varun Chopra's bat and a foot short of their ankles.
It was one part of a far-from-convincing start from the Warwickshire captain, who manage to tough it out to score his first Championship half-century in 14 innings. In the fourth over, he was subject to a vociferous lbw appeal, led by Jordan. This time, the edge of his bat saved him. Later on, it would take him past 50 as he nudged aerially - and not too deliberately - through a vacant third slip for four.
He was almost sold down the river on 23, when Jonathan Trott pushed to Luke Wells at backward point and set off for a single concocted by his own desperation. Chopra had given up the run only for Wells to throw wide of the stumps.
Trott himself took time to settle into his natural groove, starting with streaky edges past third slip. In truth, he was lucky to have been allowed the chance to bat into the evening session. On 21, he edged former team-mate Steffan Piolet through to the keeper. However, as Sussex's appeal turned into jubilation, Trott, along with Alex Wharf's finger, were unmoved. Naturally, the following delivery went for four.
From then on, Trott was less tetchy, allowing the ball to come on to the bat nicely, most notably when using his feet to hit Tredwell through the covers. His shot to reach his fifty - an exquisite on-drive off Magoffin - was arguably the best of the day.
However, Sussex did well to reel in the visitors thanks to a fine partnership with the ball between Hatchett and Tredwell. While the offspinner tied down an end, varying his length and loop, Hatchett attacked the channel outside off stump and was eventually rewarded with the wicket of Chopra, who was beginning to drive imperiously.
Tredwell also should have had two wickets to show for his work, but had Trott dropped by Brown and Sam Hain by Ed Joyce at leg slip, on 58 and 3 respectively. As it is, the game is nicely poised, with positive results for either side still a real possibility.