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Bell gets a lift; the Curran brothers get a slap

Warwickshire 332 and 435 for 8 dec (Bell 99, Ambrose 85, Barker 70*, T Curran 4-112) drew with Surrey 437 (Sangakkara 105, Sibley 56)
Scorecard

They ended the game with fewer points than their rivals, but it may well have been Warwickshire who left Edgbaston on Monday night the happier side.

To have recovered from a perilous position - Surrey were, at one point, only 65 runs behind with eight first-innings wickets intact - to have seen several batsmen return to form and to have registered 400 for the first time this season were all significant signs of progress by a side beaten by an innings in both previous matches.

Most of all, though, they showed what their captain and coach described afterwards as "character." A less united dressing room might well have capitulated at times during this game, so it bodes well for the rest of the campaign that hope and fight remains. They have made life desperately tough for themselves, but they will take some confidence from aspects of this performance and, whether you've played one game or one hundred, that is a priceless commodity.

"It was a much-improved performance," Jim Troughton, the head coach said afterwards. "We have come off the back of two quite damaging defeats and times like that are a true test of the individuals and also as a team.

"We have had a much better four days, still not perfect by any means, but after a 100-run deficit in the first innings I thought we showed a lot of skill and character in the third innings."

Surrey, meanwhile, may feel they missed an opportunity. Both in their first innings, when they would have had hopes of building a lead of 200 at one stage, and at stages in Warwickshire's second innings, especially on the final morning when their seamers were oddly off-colour, they were unable to produce the consistent cricket required to kill off Warwickshire. They are a fine side but the length of the tail - Tom Curran looks a bit high at No. 8 - and a bit of a lack of ruthlessness are potential causes for concern.

While their coach, Michael Di Venuto, quite rightly praised the excellence of Warwickshire's batting on the third evening, in particular, as a key factor, he also admitted his side played "some very average stuff."

"It was a really mixed performance," he said. "The good stuff was excellent but there was some very average stuff with both bat and ball.

"We were slow to start the game and took two sessions to get it together and then took seven for 69 to finish it off which was a brilliant comeback. Then with the bat we got ourselves into a great position but it was disappointing the way we finished off there."

Di Venuto also confirmed that both Currans had been given a "slap on the wrist" by the ECB's Cricket Liaison Officer, Tony Pigott after the game. It will be a surprise if more formal censure does not follow. Neither incident - dissent from Sam; a send-off from Tom - was serious, but they were unnecessary. Two such terrific young cricketers don't need such characteristics to enjoy the success their skills deserve.

When the final day started, Surrey still had a decent chance of forcing victory. Warwickshire's lead was only 57 and a new ball was due before lunch. But Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose both played nicely, putting away a glut of short and over-pitched deliveries, and Warwickshire were gradually able to relax.

Bell described himself as "gutted" to miss out on a long-awaited century. But he could take consolation from the knowledge that his runs had saved his team and take confidence from the way he timed the ball. It was some surprise when he reached for one from Gareth Batty, easily the pick of the Surrey bowlers, that didn't turn and gave a thin edge to the keeper.

Ambrose, who timed the ball even more sweetly than Bell for a while, was unable to take advantage of being dropped on 74 - Kumar Sangakkara made amends a few minutes later - but Keith Barker, with his third half-century of the campaign, made sure of the draw in an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 91 with Chris Wright.

Mark Footitt was also able to bowl a handful of overs for Surrey despite being forced off the pitch with a sore leg on day three. But he wasn't at his best and, while the odd ball misbehaved, the pitch never deteriorated enough for Surrey's seamers to take advantage.

There was a case for Warwickshire declaring and trying to put Surrey under a bit of pressure. But they didn't want to work this hard for a draw to give Surrey any chance of victory and, by the chance they felt safe, the amount of overs left rendered it irrelevant.

Their next game - against Somerset - is looking vital. Both teams have endured a disappointing start to the season and both will be looking for a boost. The loser - and the pitch at Taunton these days suggests there may well be one if the weather allows - will be in trouble.

Warwickshire have been boosted by the news that Jeetan Patel will be available for that game. While New Zealand are planning on holding a training camp at the time, they have given Patel permission to remain with Warwickshire which, given the expected surface at Taunton, could be highly significant.

There was a bit more good news for them. Olly Stone, who suffered a serious injury before signing for the club, was able to have a gentle bowl before play boosting hopes that he might be able to return by late July, while Boyd Rankin is also hoping to return to bowling shortly and could have an outside chance of playing in that Somerset match.