Lancashire 7 for 1 (Sutcliffe 4*, Loye 0*) trail Warwickshire 173 (Frost 63, Cork 6-53) by 166 runs
Dominic Cork rolled back the years with a menacing display of seam and swing bowling on the first day at Edgbaston as Lancashire took a grip against Warwickshire. He had four wickets before lunch and completed his first five-wicket haul for two years as the Warwickshire batting again struggled. For the third time in recent matches it was left to Tony Frost to perform the repair act, but his fighting 63 could only push them to 173.
Cork has his own feature on the Sky Sports show Cricket AM, called Champagne Cork, and this effort would not be out of place getting a mention. He led from the front, taking on the responsibility as the leader of an attack which is shorn of three first-choice pacemen. James Anderson is a long-term absentee while Glen Chapple and Sajid Mahmood are with the England one-day squad.
But while Lancashire are building momentum, Warwickshire are a team with problems despite last week's stunning comeback to beat Durham by 18 runs. At the end of their C&G match against Worcestershire on Sunday there was a heated exchange between Mark Greatbach, the coach, and Steve Rouse, the head groundsman, within public earshot about the nature of the pitch and the amount of turn available. Rouse possibly felt under pressure not to go the same way again and surface resembled more April than mid-June.
Give Cork the overcast conditions and pitch that confronted him here and he needs no second invitation to show he is still one of more dangerous bowlers around the county circuit. The tone was set with just the third ball of the day when Nick Knight found an inside-edge to take the leg bail. Cork was whooping the ball around, pitching it up, and letting the heavy atmosphere do the rest.
"The ball swung, it was seaming conditions and we were offered first use on a wicket that gave us a little bit," Cork said following his figures of 6 for 53. "I just got the ball in the right areas and had a bit of luck with a couple of inside edges."
In testing conditions some of Warwickshire's shot selection was not of the highest quality. Mark Wagh's attempt to whip through midwicket against the swinging ball resulted in a catch to gully and Jonathan Trott offered no shot to one that nipped back off the seam from Tom Smith.
Lancashire's young trio of Smith, Kyle Hogg and Oliver Newby provided an excellent supporting role but the innings was rapidly heading towards a one-man show. And that's a situation Cork thrives on. He had a huge, a typically theatrical appeal, against Ian Westwood turned down but next ball speared a full delivery through an attempted drive. Dougie Brown was then in and out in a flash courtesy of a perfect outswinger, leaving Warwickshire in a mess at 43 for 5.
Warwickshire's batting struggles - which include 190 runs in the last ten innings for Knight and no fifties in six for Wagh - was highlighted by James Troughton. Given the current talk around England's one-day squad and the new faces, it is easy to forget that Troughton has also been part of new-look national team when he was included in Michael Vaughan's first squad as captain - the Natwest Series in 2003. How times change. Here he laboured for 59 balls over two runs before pushing outside his offstump to Cork, who followed his first spell of 12-4-17-4 with two more in his next eight overs.
Frost, though, proved harder to dislodge and followed his match-turning 96 against Durham with another resolute display. He showed the top order how to combat the moving ball by playing late and softly. However, he wasn't afraid to punish the rare loose offerings and his fifty arrived with a well struck sweep off Gary Keedy. Streak and James Anyon then further frustrated Lancashire's efforts to wrap up the tail with the highest stand of the innings.
The resistance was ended by Keedy, when he claimed two an over, and Lancashire quickly lost Mark Chilton in a tricky session before bad light ended play. Streak's earlier decision to bat may yet prove to be a masterstroke if this surface dusts up in the same way as other Edgbaston pitches. But first his team has a whole lot of fighting to do to stay in the contest.