Warwickshire v Durham, Edgbaston, 2nd day September 24, 2014

Trott and Chopra secure second place

Warwickshire 413 for 8 (Chopra 160, Trott 104, Rushworth 5-94) lead Durham 201 by 212 runs
Scorecard

Warwickshire have secured a second-place finish in the County Championship and with it and top-two finish in all three competitions.

Centuries from Varun Chopra and Jonathan Trott helped them accrue the bonus points they required to ensure that - excepting the unlikely event of a points reduction for slow over-rates or similar - they cannot be overhauled by Sussex. It means Warwickshire's players will add £159,000 - the reward for second-place in the Championship - to the £45,000 they won as runners-up in the Royal London Cup and the £175,000 they won for lifting the NatWest T20 Blast trophy.

They also earned themselves an excellent opportunity of finishing the season with a victory. With the first-innings lead over Durham already well over 200, they retain hopes of batting just once in this match

While there may be a temptation to look at isolated moments - such as the poor weather that robbed them of victory at Old Trafford in April - and dream about what might have been in this Championship campaign, the result of head-to-head meetings with the champions should produce a sobering effect. Yorkshire crushed Warwickshire by innings margins both home and away this season and are, without doubt, the deserved champions. Warwickshire have some improvements to make if they are to challenge them next season.

With that in mind, though, the return to form of Trott and Chopra is heartening. Both players, the senior batsmen in this side, endured tough starts to the season with Trott coming close to retirement after his abortive comeback against Sussex in April.

Thanks to the support of the club, the England set-up and the highly-respected sports psychologist Steven Peters, Trott has returned to something approaching his best and has been in prolific form in recent weeks.

This was his second Championship century in successive innings, his third in eight innings and his fifth century in all competitions dating back to July 21. He also finished the Royal London Cup as the highest England-qualified run-scorer. Had he started the season in such form, there is little doubt he would have been in the England ODI squad for the Sri Lanka tour.

It might still prove unwise to discount him from future squads. While the England management are, wisely, keen not to feed any speculation that could burden him with undue pressure at this stage, they have kept in touch with Trott and reassured him that the door has not been shut on him.

"Trott has done brilliantly well," James Whitaker, the national selector said when announcing the ODI squad. "He's been through some tough times in the last 12 months and he's worked himself into a position, with help from ECB and other people around him, to feel comfortable enough now to play for Warwickshire.

"Not only that but perform exceptionally well. So he's now in a position where we're looking at him as someone who could be considered again in the future.

"But let's take each stage at a time. We'll be having conversations with him in the future and seeing what the best way forward is for him next year. Well done to him but slowly, slowly. Let's see how the winter goes. It's a delicate situation and we respect the way he's come back into consideration. We have a duty of care towards him."

By Trott's own reckoning, he is playing at his best when the straight drives only just miss the stumps on their way to mid-on. So to see him here, leaning into those familiar cover drives, flicking off the legs and easing the ball down the ground imperiously was to see a class act somewhere near its best. Perhaps even more reassuringly, Trott was furious with himself after his dismissal, spooning a long-hop to midwicket; a sure sign that the insatiable hunger for runs had returned.

But, bearing in mind the state of mind in which Trott found himself in Australia and, again, after that match against Sussex, it might well be considered a triumph that he has simply returned to the game. Many in these parts are content to see him back on the field, with a bat in his hand and a smile on his face. The rest is a detail. Besides, if England do not recall him, Warwickshire may benefit from Ramprakash-esque feats on run-scoring over the next few years.

It may be that Chopra now has the more realistic chance of an England call-up. Certainly the position of opening batsman has yet to be nailed down in either Test or ODI cricket and, after a modest start to the season, he has returned to the sort of form that renders him a serious contender.

He has a wider range of stroke than either Sam Robson or Alastair Cook and, if a propensity to fence outside off stump remains a concern, it has been overcome to the effect that he was the only Warwickshire batsman to reach 1,000 first-class runs in each of 2011, 2012 and 2013 and will once again finish this season as the club's highest first-class run-scorer.

After failing to pass 52 until July 21, he has now made two centuries in his last four Championship innings and looks as if the burden of captaincy sits easily on his shoulders. He may, in time, even be considered an alternative captain of England.

With Warwickshire racing to claim the fifth batting bonus point, and with it the second-place finish, they sacrificed a few wickets in the final session. Sam Hain, who bats so like Trott you wonder if a paternity test should be taken, played across a straight one, Rikki Clarke was bamboozled by a slower one and Tim Ambrose was adjudged to have edged a pull. By the time Keith Barker steered one to the cordon, Chris Rushworth had another five-wicket haul and his 20th first-class victim in 10 days.

His batsmen will have to offer equally strong support, if his success is not to go to waste.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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