Warwickshire v Somerset, Specsavers Championship Div 1, Edgbaston, 2nd day May 9, 2016

So much for flat pitches: Edgbaston turns nasty as 18 wickets fall

Jon Culley at Edgbaston

Warwickshire 152 (Chopra 56) and 4 for 0 require another 318 runs to beat Somerset 295 and 178 (Trego 51)
Scorecard

Ian Bell's hamstring injury seems to make him a non-starter in the first Test © Getty Images

So much for flat pitches. Just when it seemed batsmen might be able to look forward to some good old-fashioned shirt fronts, thanks to the decision to allow visiting teams to bowl first if they fancy it, the one cut for this match has been a proper package of unpredictability, and painfully so at times.

There were 18 wickets on the second day and at least six instances of players being hit on various parts of the body. Tom Abell, Peter Trego and, earlier, Keith Barker, were all left with throbbing fingers, Chris Rogers took blows to the ribs and midriff and Lewis Gregory had to have treatment as a ball from an apologetic Boyd Rankin reared up and struck him on the helmet.

It was a wonder Ian Bell's hamstring, which has almost certainly ruled out any possible Test recall against Sri Lanka next week, was not superseded as the injury story of the day.

If Somerset were left a little battered and bruised, Warwickshire look like being on the wrong end of the result. Bowled out for 152 in reply to 295, their tall pace quartet in turn shot Somerset out for 178 but a target of 322 to achieve a first win of the season looks a tall order, unless the pitch flattens out appreciably.

Trego's 51, which supplemented his 94 on day one, was by some margin the best Somerset score and its merits were applauded with gusto on the visitors' balcony. It was a characteristically aggressive innings from the combative all-rounder, and though he described the pitch as "scary" he confessed to enjoying the challenge hugely.

"There are some quite decent sized cracks so there is a little bit of uneven bounce and sideways movement and when someone is bowling a very hard projectile at you at 85mph and you don't really know how it is going to behave off the pitch, that's a pretty scary proposition," he said.

"When a few of the guys get hit on the gloves and hit in the body, that sets the batsmen on the back foot and creates a little bit of doubt and mistakes creep in.

"But to be honest I quite like playing on wickets like that. It gets the juices flowing and you know there is going to be a potential result. Wearing a couple is part of the gig. A couple of guys who ducked into some relatively full deliveries that were not played particularly well but some balls bounced alarmingly and that's fantastic for me.

"Abes (Tom Abell) played magnificently well on day one with support from myself but we played and missed at a lot of balls and it was one of those wickets where you could easily be rolled for 150 and that played out in Warwickshire's innings."

In fairness, it could be argued that the behaviour of the pitch was a factor in no more than a handful of dismissals. Rogers, never comfortable, fended a short ball to short leg and the one that had Jim Allenby caught at second slip climbed on him but the full, straight ball was as effective a weapon as any. It was too good for James Hildreth, for example, who had his middle stump uprooted first ball by Chris Woakes.

There were a few batsmen, too, who were architects of their own demise.

Bell, who had missed the whole of the last session and a little more after feeling his left hamstring in the field on day one, came in unaccompanied at five down but never looked comfortable and the immediate thought was that it would not be long before he asked for a runner. In the event, he did not need one. After despatching a glorious cover drive for four off Trego, he attempted to dab the next delivery to third man but was never in control of the shot and instead gave Allenby a low catch at first slip.

The diagnosis on the ground was that Bell had a grade one tear. He was due to have a scan after close of play but even if the damage is revealed as no worse, he can expect to miss next week's match against Nottinghamshire at the very least. A recall to Test match duty seems therefore to be ruled out, at least in the short term.

Bell was the fourth man out in the morning session as Warwickshire stumbled from 27-2 overnight to 107-6 at lunch. Jonathan Trott had pulled Gregory loosely to midwicket, Sam Hain was undone attempting to play across one from the same bowler and Tim Ambrose thin-edged a cut, Ryan Davies, the England Under-19 wicketkeeper recruited from Kent, taking a good diving catch.

Varun Chopra played soundly for his 56 but only Chris Woakes was able to stick with him for more than a few overs.

Somerset's batsmen looked hardly more secure. Abell, after his first-day hundred, was gone for just two this time and after the departures of Marcus Trescothick and then Hildreth left them 23-3, there seemed to be a nervousness about the batting that suggested the pitch was playing on a few minds.

Trego countered this with aggression and for him it paid off. After Allenby was dismissed at 53-4, Somerset's progress to 151-8 would not have happened without it. Trego struck sxi fours before top-edging a pull as Jeetan Patel claimed the 28th wicket of the match, and the 16th of the day, and the first to fall to spin.

Useful runs from the Overton twins swelled Somerset's lead and Warwickshire were left to negotiate two overs before the close. But for the forecast of rain, a three-day finish would be guaranteed.

Comments