Troughton shows his mature side
Warwickshire 224 for 4 (Troughton 100*, Ambrose 47*) trail Hampshire 379 (Pothas 122*) by 155 runs
It was always likely that Hampshire's main obstacle in this game would be a former England batsman battling for a recall. But it was Jim Troughton, not Ian Bell, who led the way as Warwickshire replied to Hampshire's worthy first innings.
Troughton's England days are surely behind him but, on this form, that is a shame. Now aged 30, he has matured into a better, tighter player than the 24-year-old who played six ODI's in 2003 and, in compiling the 15th first-class century of his career, produced some delightful strokes.
Troughton has always been a pleasing stroke-maker but, in the past, has suffered for a looseness outside off stump. Such profligacy appears to have been eliminated, for now at least, leaving a player blessed with a wide arrange of shots and the judgement to know when to use them. Here he gave only one chance, on 99, when Liam Dawson put down a sharp opportunity at leg slip off the deserving Chris Tremlett.
Warwickshire were grateful for Troughton's defiance. At 120 for four they were somewhat precariously placed, but Troughton's unbroken stand of 104 with the equally fluent Tim Ambrose leaves this game intriguingly poised going into the third day.
The top order had shown little resistance. Darren Maddy prodded at one he could have left before Tony Frost, responding to an optimistic call from Jonathan Trott, was run out by a direct hit from the substitute fielder David Griffiths. Trott then felt for one away from his body only to see Dominic Cork, at first slip, cling on to a sharp effort with his left hand.
Bell couldn't take the opportunity to strengthen his case for an England recall. Though he looked untroubled in caressing a series of sweetly-timed drives through the covers, he was unfortunate to receive a brute of a ball from the mercurial Chris Tremlett that reared horribly and took the batsman's glove before looping to first slip. To add injury to insult, Bell was left with a bruised hand, though the club insist it is not a serious blow.
Perhaps it was Tremlett's performance that should be of most interest to England's selectors. Though initially cumbersome, he was stirred into life late in the day and, roaring in from the Pavilion End, produced a couple of mightily impressive spells.
This, at last, was a glimpse of the menacing fast bowler that Tremlett might yet become. Gaining sharp bounce and seam movement, he beat the outside edge on several occasions and appeared head and shoulders more dangerous than any other bowler on display. It was an exhilarating passage of play and timely reminder to those who question the quality or the intensity of county cricket.
Sadly the integrity of county cricket took another blow with the withdrawal - and substitution - of Marcus North. After just one day's county service, he has been summoned to replace the injured Shaun Marsh in the Australian squad playing Pakistan in Dubai. North's place in this game has been taken by Michael Lumb.
Whether it should have been is debatable. The playing conditions state that "a replacement player shall be allowed in the event of a cricketer being required to join the England Team for a Test or One-Day International match."
But the ECB are an accommodating bunch. Not ones to let their own rule book dissuade them, they reasoned that any international call-up represented a "parallel situation" and sanctioned the substitution on the basis that Lumb was a "like for like" replacement. Warwickshire, though initially sceptical, accepted the change without resistance.
Earlier Nic Pothas completed the 24th first-class century of his career as Hampshire extended their first innings to challenging proportions. Pothas shepherded the tail so effectively that the last three wickets added 108, with Tremlett an increasingly confident partner in an eighth-wicket stand of 70.
Though Chris Woakes finally produced a fine yorker for Tremlett and Balcombe played around a straight one, Tomlison resisted long enough to see Pothas to his century and Hampshire to a fourth batting bonus point.
George Dobell is chief writer of Spin magazine.