Warwickshire 257 for 7 (Umeed 103*, Trott 56) trail Lancashire 273 by 16 runs Scorecard
Does pink-ball cricket have a future in England?
It took 252 years to build York Minster, 400 years to build Angkor Wat and up to 2000 years to carve the citadel at Petra out of rock, so perhaps, in context, Andrew Umeed's innings here wasn't so slow after all. Just one of the slowest in Championship history.
According to Robert Brooke, the cricket statistician, in terms of minutes, Umeed's century exceeded the 420-minute hundred by WH Denton for Northants against Derbyshire in 1914, although at exactly seven hours that calculation sounds suspiciously like an approximation. Umeed's hundred was raised in 429 minutes, although it is a safe guess he faced fewer balls. Only Jason Gallian, who made a 453-minute hundred for Lancashire against Derbyshire in Blackpool in 1994 has scored a slower Championship century.
There was a moment - and by a moment, think a couple of hours - when it seemed Umeed might also register the slowest half-century (this time in terms of balls received) in the history of the County Championship. As it was, he edged one through the hands of Alex Davies to reach the landmark in the 71st over of the Warwickshire innings having faced 220 balls. Billy Godleman's record - he faced 244 balls on the way to a half-century against Middlesex at Lord's in 2013 - remains unbeaten.
Umeed's innings was, in its way, a masterful demonstration of patience and restraint. He knows where his off stump is and is clearly perfectly happy to leave and defend all day. Of the two boundaries in his first 50, only one - an off drive against Tom Bailey - was hit in front of square. It kept Warwickshire's heads above water in this game and annoyed James Anderson enormously. At one stage, a pigeon circled and considered landing on his left shoulder. It could have nested quite comfortably without fear of disturbance. While long-form cricket is played, there will still be value - and an entertainment of sorts - in such batting.
But it suggested, not for the first time, that there are limitations to the pink ball. It suggests, as was the case when the ball was trailed in a 2nd XI game here last year, that once it goes soft, the game can become terribly, mind-numbingly, counter-productively, stultifying attritional.
There's a place for attrition, of course. But the purpose of the pink ball is, in part at least, to attract a new audience to the game. And if that new audience - and at present, 45% of ticket sales to the Test here in August against West Indies are customers who have never bought Test tickets to this ground before - is presented with a spectacle like this, it's a fair bet that few of them will be back.
Perhaps, on a different type of surface, those factors might have been mitigated. This pitch, used previously for the Champions Trophy semi-final, was unusually slow and probably exaggerated the pink ball's limitations. Warwickshire, understandably, were reluctant to risk a grassy pitch against an opposition with Anderson in their line-up but may well have learned from this experience and provide bowlers a bit more assistance for the Test. They certainly won't utilise a used pitch for that Test and this whole game might reasonably be thought of as an experiment.
From what we've seen in the pink-ball games so far, it seems safe to make a couple of guarded conclusions. For the first 15 overs or so, the ball appears to swing pretty much the same way as a red ball. It also retains its proud seam position for the full 80 overs, which ensures bowlers have at least something with which to work.
But it seems impossible to buff, apparently due to a lack of grease in the leather (more grease would darken it), which limits the opportunities for swing - either conventional or reverse (though there was a little reverse in both innings). Combined with its propensity to lose hardness quite quickly, it means bowlers are pretty much reduced to bowling line and length and batsmen, with little pace with which to work, must wait for the poor ball. Which means, when patient batsmen and disciplined bowlers collide, you have something approaching stalemate.
That's pretty much what we saw on day two at Edgbaston. Once Jonathan Trott had departed, attempting to force across the line having made a half-century, and Ian Bell had nibbled just a little tentatively at a fine ball that left him off the seam, the day became a battle for survival between Umeed and the Lancashire bowlers.
The seamers gave him almost nothing to hit. But their attempts to lure him into a rash shot - or even any sort of shot - came to very little. He steered one past point and another just past gully - the uncharitable would call it an edge - but generally was happy to accumulate with a push here and a nudge there. There were no pulls and few drives but, for a man playing for his future and his team's Division One survival, it was an admirable effort. He produced something similar - a 158-ball innings of 45 - in the pink-ball 2nd XI match here last year.
He did give a couple of chances. The first, on 19, looked tough - Davies was unable to cling on to one far to his right off Clark - while the second, on 49, was similar and off Anderson. Anderson left Umeed in no doubt as to how he felt about such an innings.
While Tim Ambrose, who reached his 10,000th first-class run when he got off the mark, wafted at a wide one, Sam Hain was brilliantly caught by Anderson - left-handed and ankle height - in his follow through. When Rikki Clarke and Keith Barker were dismissed by successive deliveries, victims of the swing of the second new ball, Umeed sped up. His second fifty took a relatively brisk 111 balls with his century brought up with a delightful back-foot force that would have delighted Joe Root. In all, having resumed on 8 overnight, he scored 95 in 96 overs and goes into day three with power to add. Lancashire, you can be quite sure, are sick of the sight of him.
With Jeetan Patel adding some impetus, Warwickshire even managed to claim a second batting bonus point and claw themselves close to parity with Lancashire. If the weather holds - and the forecast is not promising - we might even have an intriguing finish.
Meanwhile Haseeb Hameed was forced off the pitch after splitting the webbing between a couple of his fingers - he had two or three stitches and is expected to bat without undue impediment in Lancashire's second innings - and Chris Woakes returned to training. Woakes had a bat on Monday and, after attempting a gentle bowl, decided he was not quite ready for such rigours. He could, if required, play as a specialist batsman for Warwickshire within a week or so.
Warwickshire also announced the signing of Yorkshire allrounder Will Rhodes. He is not likely to be the last of their acquisitions, though they will have more scope for movement at the end of 2018 when over £1m of the annual wage bill will be freed up by players out of contract.