Yorkshire left to regret missed chances
Warwickshire 217 and 347 v Yorkshire 274 and 57 for 1
If Yorkshire struggle to avoid relegation this season, they may reflect on the third day of this match with a great deal of regret. Yes, it's early to be talking about such issues. But the bookies make Andrew Gale's side favourites for the drop, so they can ill afford to squander match-winning opportunities. Particularly against another side that could find themselves in the relegation mix.
But Yorkshire certainly spurned a good chance here. With Warwickshire struggling to build a challenging target, the visiting fielders dropped several potential catches, allowing the hosts to set a target perhaps 60 more than should have been the case. On such a wicket, that's a significant amount of runs.
Jim Troughton was the grateful recipient on two occasions. First, on 50, he offered a chance off the leading edge that looped high over the slips. Anthony McGrath and Tim Bresnan both made ground quickly but though the former appeared to have clung on, he became tangled in the latter and the ball went to ground. Neither man appeared to call for the catch.
Had it been taken, Warwickshire would have been eight down and only 215 ahead. Moments later Troughton was missed again. This time it was Yorkshire's wicketkeeper, Jonathan Bairstow, who put down the regulation outside edge. The unfortunate bowler on both occasions was Oliver Hannon-Dalby. In just his second first-class game, he bounced back from a disappointing display in the first innings with a sustained and impressive display of fast-medium bowling. At one stage claimed four for 19 in 29 balls and later returned to wrap-up the innings and claim the first five-wicket haul of a career that promises much. Those of a certain persuasion might be interested to learn that he is the first Yorkshireman with a double-barrelled name to achieve such a feat.
His spell changed the game. Until then, Warwickshire appeared to be progressing smoothly, with Jonathan Trott and Jim Troughton posting 105 for the fourth wicket and inching their side into the ascendancy. Using his great height (six feet, eight inches) to extract extra bounce, Hannon-Dalby utilised the helpful conditions sensibly and maintained a consistently good line and length. He has no great pace of yet but, aged just 20, could yet fill-out and become a very useful player.
It was Trott's dismissal that sparked the decline. Trott, smarting at his rejection from England's ODI and T20 teams, had batted with great assurance but, drawn into pushing at one he could have left off the back foot, he edged to second slip. Three balls later Tim Ambrose, who looks to be in no form at all, played a similar stroke and was dropped at slip by Bresnan. Ambrose failed to take advantage, however, succumbing to the next delivery as he swung - horribly - across the line. Hannon-Dalby then defeated Chris Woakes' tentative forward defensive, before Neil Carter drove straight to mid-off.
Troughton and Naqaash Tahir resisted, however. Though Naqaash played and missed often, the pair added 64 for the eighth wicket, with Troughton flourishing after a sticky start and unveiling some characteristically flowing strokes through the covers. He was finally defeated by a fine inswinger from the impressive Steve Patterson, before Naqaash played across a straight one and was trapped in front. By then, however, Yorkshire's profligacy had enabled Warwickshire to set a target of 291.
Perhaps they will feel their total should have been even higher, however. With Ian Bell and Varun Chopra building a solid platform and Troughton and Trott capitalising with half-centuries, Warwickshire appeared to be earning a winning position. Certainly Bell, on his 28th birthday, will regret his dismissal moments after completing an untroubled half-century. In attempting to drive a ball that was never there for the stroke he succeeded only in slicing to point, while Chopra, half-forward to one that left him, edged to slip.
The most impressive batting of the match to date has come from Trott, however. Punching powerfully through the covers and clipping through mid-wicket with style, he allowed no margin for error and demonstrated the technique and temperament necessary to master such testing conditions. He gave one half-chance, on 70, when he edged Bresnan just to the right of McGrath at slip, but otherwise this was a masterful demonstration.
Yorkshire started well in pursuit of their target but, with Joe Sayers following one angled across him before the close, Warwickshire should still be considered narrow favourites to claim just their fourth championship win at Edgbaston since April 2007.
The pitch has eased somewhat, but still offers help to bowlers of all types. Certainly it has contributed to a wonderfully engaging game of cricket that has provided a great deal more entertainment than the run-drenched draws so prevalent at Edgbaston in recent seasons. An appetising final day looms.