Hain fights but Rushworth has Durham on top
Warwickshire 167 for 7 (Hain 57, Rushworth 4-39) trail Durham 314 by 147 runs
Sam Hain cannot have failed to impress watching England selector James Whitaker as he top-scored with 57 on a ground where he struck a century last season. He was the only batsman not out lbw, four of the victims going to Chris Rushworth, who moved one ahead of Middlesex's James Harris as the leading wicket taker in Division One of the Championship.
In difficult conditions that required them to counter a typical Riverside pitch after a delayed start and stoppages for rain that resulted in the 43.3 overs possible being played over five sessions, it is perhaps no surprise that Warwickshire are in a bit of a spot.
They lost six of their seven wickets lbw, four of them to the admirable Rushworth as the ball jagged around and sometimes kept low. Rushworth broke the half-century mark for the third successive season. Of those, 23 have been leg before, remarkably, although before anyone suggests his success is all down to the pitches here it should be pointed out that he has taken more wickets (27) away from the Riverside this year than on his home turf.
In the circumstances, then, the half century scored by Hain in a 98-run partnership with Tim Ambrose that towered above the wreckage of the rest of the Warwickshire innings is all the more outstanding.
Hain is in only his second season as part of the senior squad at Edgbaston but has made such an impact that Warwickshire already feel his absences keenly, particularly now, with several top-order batsmen finding runs hard to come by. A shoulder injury suffered in the field against Worcestershire in May ruled him out for two months and he was badly missed.
Still a teenager - at least until this Thursday - Hain is the former Australia Under-19 batsman who pledged his future to England in 2013 and raised exciting possibilities last season by becoming his county's youngest first-class centurion - taking the record held by Ian Bell -- and later the youngest double centurion among four hundreds scored during his debut season.
There were two more half-centuries in the first three matches of this season before his injury. On his comeback against Yorkshire last week, when Warwickshire suffered a crushing defeat, his second-innings hundred set him apart as the only batsman able to counter a Yorkshire attack led by a rampant Ryan Sidebottom.
Again here, with batting conditions such a challenge, he seemed to have the composure and technical qualities that deserted others. He had the chief England selector, James Whitaker, among those looking on, although Hain's name remains one solely for the notebook for now. Although he avoided the new requirement for someone of his status to undergo a seven-year qualification term, he does not become eligible still until the winter of 2016-17.
As it is, Warwickshire will do well to finish anywhere close to Durham's 314 and much will depend on Chris Woakes, who reports that both ankle and knee stood up well to his comeback with the ball on Sunday, being able to reproduce the form with the bat that enabled him to make 93 on his guest appearance for Nottinghamshire's Second XI last week.
If day three begins in any way resembling day two he might not add many to his overnight 12. After a delayed noon start, Rushworth struck with his second ball, adding another disappointment to a string of low scores troubling Varun Chopra, the Warwickshire captain, who has been out for 16 or fewer in 13 of his 16 Championship innings. He seemed unimpressed with decision by David Millns, as Paul Collingwood had the day before, although he might have felt less unhappy had it come off the back of a run of fifties and hundreds.
It was not long, in any case, before he had Jonathan Webb and Laurie Evans back in the dressing room with him, the two falling to Rushworth in consecutive, similar balls before Hain survived the hat-trick attempt, only just as it happens, his bat coming down just soon enough to flick the ball off his pads and divert it to the long-leg boundary.
Ian Westwood became Rushworth's fourth victim, at which point Warwickshire were 40 for 4. The Sunderland-born seamer's propensity for lbws is the direct consequence, he said afterwards, of trying to bowl straight, at the stumps, rather than looking for swing.
Thereafter, though, he was made to wait for more gains as Hain batted with the precocious maturity that has been the feature of performances since he announced himself last season. With Ambrose encouraging him, as well as keeping the scoreboard moving, he settled to his work and his confidence grew, to the extent that his dismissal on 57 was slightly unexpected. It was not Rushworth this time but John Hastings who found the way, posting Keaton Jennings as a short leg positioned deeper than is conventional, and reaping the reward as Hain turned a ball off his hip cleanly but could not get it past Jennings, who moved sharply to his right to take a fine catch.
From Warwickshire's point of view, the benefits of that partnership were undermined somewhat by the loss of three more wickets for 21. Ambrose departed four balls after Hain, lbw this time to Collingwood, before Rushworth returned to bag another one in Rikki Clarke. Then came the fourth and last stoppage of the day.