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George Dobell at Edgbaston
September 3, 2009
Worcestershire 11 for 0 (Mitchell 10*) trail Warwickshire 443 (Westwood 133, Trott 93, Jones 6-100) by 432 runs
Worcestershire always hoped that a fast bowler named Jones would lead their attack this season, but most supporters thought it would be former England seamer, Simon. Yet it was Richard Jones who produced a career-best performance in Warwickshire's first innings to give his side some cheer on another trying day.
Jones, bowling at a brisk pace and moving the ball both ways, was the only member of Worcestershire's attack to harness the helpful conditions and bowled a number of utterly unplayable deliveries.
Warwickshire still hold the dominant position in this match, however. A total of 443 on this pitch is enormous and, if the weather holds, Worcestershire's first priority will simply be to avert the follow-on. But Jones' contribution at least provided some encouragement for the future. And, after such a disappointing season, the focus at Worcestershire is very much on finding silver linings and hope.
It may turn out to be a defining day in Jones' career. Now aged 22, he has long shown promise and was selected to represent England Under-19s in 2005-06. A succession of injuries and, perhaps, a certain natural reticence, delayed his progress, however, and he was desperately close to cricketing oblivion only a few months ago.
He was not initially offered a new deal at the end of last season but, after impressing with his hard work and skill in training over the winter, Jones convinced the club to offer him a summer contract. Such has been his improvement - and the side's need to recruit - that he has now signed until the end of the 2010 season.
The only disappointment was the failure of his more experienced colleagues to follow his example. Gareth Andrew and Imran Arif, in particular, delivered far too many poor balls, while Matt Mason's lack of pace allowed the batsmen too much time to adapt. The performance of Steve Davies, standing-up to Mason's medium-pace, also suggested Surrey's new keeper has some work to do before he can be considered for Test duty. Conditions were not easy, but it is unthinkable that the likes of Chris Read or James Foster would have conceded 16 byes.
Worcestershire's biggest impediment, however, was Jonathan Trott, who was simply masterful. In conditions that all his team-mates struggled, his bat appeared as broad as a barn door. He countered the movement by playing late and straight, but ensured he capitalised on anything short or over-pitched with a series of booming cuts and drives. It was a performance that demonstrated the technique and temperament that could, perhaps, be utilised by England as they seek to solve the conundrum of who should bat at No. 3 in the Test side.
None of his colleagues could prosper against a ball swinging prodigiously. Ian Bell fell in just the third over of the day, trapped by a delivery that kept horribly low, before Ian Westwood's admirable innings was ended after he failed to recover his ground having seen his partner, Trott, slip over as he turned for a second run.
Jim Troughton edged an attempted drive before Tony Frost cut a long-hop to point and Tim Ambrose and Chris Woakes were both undone by lovely outswingers and edged to slip. Finally Trott, within sight of his sixth first-class century of the season, failed to get his foot to the pitch as he looked to drive and edged another outswinger to slip.
With the weather so unsettled, Warwickshire may rue their decision to bat on once they gained full batting bonus points. 69 overs have already been lost to rain and Warwickshire need to win this match if they are to lift themselves from relegation danger. They managed only 20 balls before play was abandoned for the day, though Naqaash Tahir, who has now signed his new contract, found enough movement to suggest Worcestershire will face a tough struggle on the final two days of this game.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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