Warwickshire 181 for 3 (Sibley 81*) v Nottinghamshire
The removal of much of its branding and soporific pace of the play made Edgbaston look and feel more like a working museum than a cricket ground about to be used for the fastest-moving World Cup in history. But despite progress more redolent of the dourest old days of the sport, it also nodded towards a possible future.
Dominic Sibley was there at the start and remained there at the end, 81 not out from 264 balls. With England looking for an opening batsman prepared to blunt as much as take apart Australia's attack come the Ashes, the sight of his big front leg pushing forward, bat not far behind, could easily become a leitmotiv of the series. He is close to a fourth first-class hundred of the season.
If Sibley is relatively unknown outside county aficionados, then Stuart Broad is a familiar figure. Not, though, in this incarnation. Over the winter, when he briefly lost his place in the England side, Broad contemplated how best to fill what remains of his career. The answer may well have been on display: no longer a nasty, pouting new ball bowler, but wise first change. Draco Malfoy has become Albus Dumbledore.
With James Pattinson available for a first Championship match since 2017, and Luke Fletcher rewarded for his status as Nottinghamshire's most successful bowler this season, Broad waited until the ninth over to remove his sunhat and join the attack. He was bypassed again when Steven Mullaney took the second new ball as Warwickshire ground on carefully beneath the floodlights.
For his first two spells at least, Broad was the pick of the attack. He not only maintained a stranglehold on the scoring (being far from alone in that regard) but also represented the most likely source of wickets. The battle with Rob Yates in particular looked what it was: a man with 437 Test wickets tormenting a 19-year-old only three weeks into his first-team career. To his great credit, Yates never sought to hit his way out of obvious difficulties.
Even if the temptation to perm James Anderson with a fresh new-ball partner in Jofra Archer proves irresistible to Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss come the first Test at this same ground at the start of August, the presence as back-up of such an experienced operator in Broad would offer skill and insurance. He is also the man most likely to wind up David Warner and the rest.
Broad is already causing mischief, tweeting in fake solemnity the observation that Justin Langer's plea for an end to the booing of Warner and Steve Smith contrasts with the invitation of Darren Lehmann to make life Down Under a misery for Broad. There isn't a wooden spoon big enough for Broad to stir this particular pot. He doesn't sound like a man expecting to be on the sidelines, Archer or not.
The pace may be down, but he kept a tight line on the first day here and found a bit of movement at times, especially operating around the wicket to the left-handers. Against less patient batsmen, that is often enough to bring reward. And when he reflects at the end of the season, he might consider Sibley to be the most obdurate of them all. Time after time, he eschewed the invitation to drive at balls outside off stump.
Perhaps it was a function of the pitch, perhaps of the first division table or perhaps of the character of the Warwickshire batting that runs came so slowly. The ratio 39/35 sounds like the polling of the main political groups in the days of the two-party system. Those figures here represented runs scored and overs bowled during the session between lunch and tea.
Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire occupy the bottom two slots and the only win for either came last week when Jeetan Patel spun the home side to victory against Surrey. Spin is expected to play a large part this time too, explaining why both sides wanted to bat first and why Warwickshire clearly place such value on first innings runs before deterioration takes hold.
The loose cut shot that brought the end of Will Rhodes proved a rare concession to temptation, as myriad statistics attest. Sibley needed 185 balls for his fifty. Sam Hain's second scoring shot came off his 55th ball. Broad returned figures of 7-5-2-1 in his second spell. And, for the most part, the patience of the crowd reflected the pace of the action.
Sibley survived a sharp chance to Matt Carter at second slip off Pattinson on 20 and then on 47 when Joe Clarke's direct hit had him scampering for his ground. In fact, it was Hain, even more abstemious, who was eventually run out having been sent back by his partner, Chris Nash backing up the original throw from Samit Patel to punish a horrible misunderstanding.
Warwickshire did accelerate after tea, relatively speaking. They pushed the infield and sought to rotate strike, with Hain and Sibley forcing balls through their favoured leg side. So not a day to remember, but Nottinghamshire have the worst batting record in the division and, come Thursday, Warwickshire may find that the end justifies their means.