Umeed takes flight with debut century
Warwickshire 273 for 8 (Umeed 101, Chopra 71, Weighell 4-75) v Durham
The last Warwickshire batsman to make a Championship hundred on debut was an extraordinary affair: Jeetan Patel, barely off the plane from New Zealand, coming in at No. 10 against Yorkshire and conjuring up something entirely unexpected.
Seven years on, Andrew Umeed matched that feat. This time the mood was quite different. By the time Umeed reached his hundred on a comparatively challenging surface, such was his composure, even allowing for the fact that his only previous first-class match had come for Scotland against Afghanistan, he had slowly made it seem inevitable.
Just to get to Edgbaston was challenging enough. By the time that Warwickshire decided to give him his debut on Friday evening, omitting Ian Westwood who had made 15 runs in seven attempts, Umeed was in Carlisle on his way back to the family home in Glasgow. He completed the journey, flew back down, and his parents followed by car in time to watch his grand moment.
Umeed needed some fortune against Graham Onions with the new ball, edging wide of Ryan Pringle, at catchable height, at third slip and then badly dropped by Paul Collingwood on 19, but they were rare blemishes. As the pitch became stickier, he became stickier still, pressing on regardless after Varun Chopra, his partner in an opening stand of 121, had fallen lbw to James Weighell.
The only time he attempted something rash, with exhilaration at his hundred still coursing through his veins, he was dismissed three balls after that landmark had been achieved, pulling a short ball from Onions straight to midwicket. On the surface, it was not a wicket-taking ball, but Onions is a canny enough soul to have banged one in with an expectation of something excitable.
Until then, Umeed had brought a disciplined air to proceedings. In a season where Haseeb Hameed has already emerged for Lancashire, here was another opening batsman of Pakistani heritage seemingly blessed with infinite patience. His early boundaries were keenly-observant deflections to third man and his 50 was well past by the time he risked a few off drives by way of variety.
Umeed was born in Glasgow and Durham, always interested in talent north of the border, took a brief look at him in a youngster, but it is at Warwickshire where his allegiance soon lay, joining forces with Dougie Brown, whose Scotland career had recently ended and who then was the county's academy director. Durham must have found it particularly galling to encounter resistance from a young player who was almost in their grasp.
He played for Kings Heath, then in the Birmingham League (he is now at Moseley) and for Warwickshire from U-17 level, just missing out on the cut for Scotland's World Cup squad last winter. Family in Pakistan has also enabled him to extend his experience worldwide, including a spell at the Saeed Ajmal academy.
These are tough times for Durham: their shaky financial situation has gained attention recently with the second Test against Sri Lanka coming up at Chester-le-Street on Friday, where advance sales are mediocre, and with the county appealing to the ECB for a restructuring of the £925,000 staging fee. The playing budget has also been slashed, leading to speculation that they will struggle to retain their best players.
But on the field Durham continue to display considerable pluck. Facing a Warwickshire total of 195 for 1 soon after tea, with Umeed as rooted as a persistent verruca, they responded magnificently, claiming seven Warwickshire wickets for 64 in 18 overs.
That was what Collingwood had envisaged when he put Warwickshire into bat - and a more welcome situation than before lunch when he put a recent foot injury behind him to bowl a settling spell to send a message to his youthful attack.
Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott both fell to Brydon Carse, a young pace bowler of South African extraction, who persisted without much luck for 13 overs but then got his just desserts by having Bell caught at second slip and Trott caught at the wicket. A loose shot from Keith Barker gave him a third wicket.
Carse was told by Durham that they wanted to bowl him in short, sharp spells - he is a slender lad with a bit of pace about him - but it has proved to be hard to get the ball out of his hands.
Weighell had four in the wickets column by the close. "The ball was swinging from the start and kept swinging right until the close of play so, although as a bowler it's never good to look up and see 190 for 1 on the board, we always felt we were in the game," he said.
Onions is supported by three pace bowlers with only 65 years between them, their inexperience so pronounced that when they beat Lancashire last week - courtesy of a daring declaration by Collingwood - they did not know the words to the team song, Blaydon Races. It is too early yet to start learning the lyrics because, thanks to Umeed, Warwickshire have a decent total on this pitch, but at least they are at the races, as it were, and that says a lot about their spirit.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps