Nottinghamshire trail Warwickshire by 56 runs with eight first-innings wickets in hand

In Warwickshire's straightened circumstances this match was always likely to prove a challenge. Shorn of eight first-choice players and facing the new Championship leaders, it is hardly surprising that they had very much the worse of the opening day.

But what makes their performance so disappointing is that they had done the hard work. Warwickshire's openers established solid foundations in a fine century stand but saw their work undone as eight wickets fell for 67 runs leaving them facing an uphill fight for survival.

While the Bears' batting was their strength last season, it is now an area of weakness. This was the sixth time in nine efforts that they have failed to pass 310 in their first innings and, on this pitch, their total is at least 200 short of par.

Nottinghamshire bowled well. Andy Harris, producing decent pace and some swing, would have troubled most in a fine post-lunch spell but several batsmen had a hand in their own dismissals. The middle-order is worryingly brittle at present.

Yet the day had started so well for Warwickshire. With Nick Knight winning the toss for the first time this season, the openers compiled their best stand in the Championship campaign of 101.

Knight (81 balls, nine fours) forced the first ball of the day for four through cover off the back foot and looked to be moving back into form as he stroked his first Championship half-century since May.

Ian Westwood concentrated on occupation of the crease. Strong off his legs, he accumulated mainly through deflections but looked solid and unveiled a fine pull and cover drive once set.

With lunch within sight, however, both openers fell to Mark Ealham. Knight was lured into prodding at a ball well outside off stump that he should have left and Westwood, less culpable, edged a fine ball that he had to play.

The real slide came after lunch when Warwickshire lost five for 19 in 11 overs. Jonathan Trott was caught behind, driving loosely at one that swung away from him, before Alex Loudon left one that he clearly expected to swing away. Jim Troughton, dropped on two, chopped on while Dougie Brown played across a straight ball.

Tony Frost edged to slip one that bounced more than he expected before Neil Carter was well caught on the cover boundary.

An enterprising stand of 45 for the ninth wicket between Luke Parker and the aggressive Dewald Pretorius at least ensured a bonus point.

Parker's batting, on debut, was one of the few bright spots on a grim day for the hosts. Though he was badly missed on five by Chris Read, who spilt a top-edged pull, Parker showed a compact technique and a couple of pleasing shots. Read left the ground on crutches after hurting his ankle in the attempt but scans showed no serious problem.

Brown found the edge of Jason Gallian's bat in his first over of the reply but Trott, at third slip, was unable to cling on to chance.

Gallian and Darren Bicknell forged a century opening stand, with Gallian unleashing some sparkling shots against an attack that lacked the requisite discipline.

Bicknell, rekindling memories of the 400-run opening stand he recorded here with Guy Welton in 2000, also took full toll on some loose bowling, reaching his 50 with his 12th boundary.

He was particularly harsh on James Anyon. The Warwickshire debutant was pulled and driven for four boundaries in a single over. There is little margin for error at this level.

Loudon made the breakthrough. Gallian, having just pulled an enormous six, mistimed a rank full-toss to midon before Russell Warren was well taken at short leg after failing to ride the bounce of a quicker ball.

The ease with which Stephen Fleming and Bicknell batted through to the close augurs ill. Warwickshire will do well to avoid defeat. n A makeshift Warwickshire take on Glamorgan at Dorridge today in the final group match of the Second XI Trophy. Warwickshire must win if they are to progress to the semi- finals but have a severely depleted squad.

The 18-year-old Moeen Ali will captain a team that includes Kenyan all-rounder Rageb Aga, recommended by ex-Bear Andy Moles, formerly Kenya's coach.

WARWICKSHIRE SECOND XI: S Moreton, N Poonia, M Ali (capt), N James, S Reddish, Rageb Aga, T Groenewalde, F Klokker, A Shantry, L Daggett, S Eustace (wkt). Twelfth man: A Owen.