Westwood digs in but Yorkshire don't wilt
Warwickshire 270 for 4 (Westwood 151*, Hain 50, Bresnan 3-39) v Yorkshire
Ian Westwood's willingness to graft for runs made this just about Warwickshire's day, although there were satisfied expressions on the faces of the Yorkshire bowlers after restricting their opponents to 270 runs from 97 overs after winning the toss and losing only four wickets.
It was one of those days when we fall back on words such as 'absorbing' and 'attritional' and other trusted euphemisms when what we have watched has not exactly been thrilling. But there is a place for such days in county cricket, when you admire the professionals for sticking at it, for maintaining their concentration when rewards are not easily won.
No two players fitted that description more than Westwood, the Warwickshire opener, and Tim Bresnan, the Yorkshire bowler, who were the principal protagonists in this gritty drama, between two sides who may well be slugging it out for the title again come September.
Warwickshire finished second to Yorkshire last season, although they were thumped by an innings both at Headingley and Edgbaston. But these are different circumstances. Yorkshire, doubly hit by the combination of England call-ups and the injury to Ryan Sidebottom, have in their ranks a 17-year-old seamer making only his second first-class appearance and a 37-year-old offspinner summoned out of semi-retirement.
Warwickshire will see a chance, therefore, to grab a few points at the expense of their rivals. With Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott away, and Tim Ambrose and Chris Woakes injured, they are not at full strength either, but Westwood did his best to provide Warwickshire's bowlers with something to work with in their absence. He did them proud, batting through the day for an unbeaten 151, unflustered by the dismissal of Varun Chopra, his captain and opening partner, to the third ball of the day, building partnerships first with William Porterfield and then Sam Hain, who made an attractive half century.
Westwood is a solid servant to his county. He was 11 when he first represented Warwickshire in age-group cricket and is the kind of player for whom benefits were designed, which is why he is so deserving of the one he has been granted this year. A former captain who struggled to combine leadership with consistent form, a player too who has suffered more than his fair share of injuries, he is keener perhaps now to take any opportunity that comes his way and this was one, on a pitch offering little help to the bowlers. It had no great pace, either, so he had to work for the runs.
He took a blow on the hand on 71 and had one clear moment of good fortune, on 118, when Jack Brooks, running around from mid-on to field, made a direct hit with his throw to the bowler's end with Westwood seemingly well short of his ground only for umpire Jeremy Lloyds to surprise the Yorkshire fielders by not giving him out.
It was a moment of frustration for Yorkshire. But they kept commendably to their disciplines, too, in particular Bresnan, whose action has been tweaked in the hope that he succumbs to fewer injuries, so that he relies more on rhythm than muscular effort.
So far he looks in good fettle and bowled the two best deliveries of the day, at the start of the first and second sessions, to remove Chopra and Porterfield, who were both drawn into playing the ball as it moved away and took the edge. Bresnan finished with 3 for 39, the pick of the bunch, although all of the frontline bowlers bowled good lines and offered few easy chances. Matthew Fisher, the 17-year-old playing in only his second first-class match, looked anything but a rookie.
James Middlebrook, the 37-year-old offspinner who has returned to his first club as an emergency stand-in, let no one down either. With Adil Rashid away with England, Yorkshire have only the 19-year-old Karl Carver as a specialist spinner with senior experience, so Middlebrook has been registered for the season.
He may been required rarely - and may not have time, given that he has been made captain of Bedfordshire and is working towards umpires' qualifications - but having been released by Northamptonshire only at the end of last season he is hardly rusty, even though he imagined that his first-class career was over. Should he take a wicket, it will be his 50th in first-class matches for Yorkshire.