A day that had appeared bleak was turned on its head as Warwickshire hit back strongly on the first day of their Championship match against Durham.
Warwickshire's bowlers cut through the Durham top-order with a fine display of swing bowling in the evening sunshine to just about sneak into pole position in the game.
Inevitably on a day when 15 wickets fell, there were questions raised about the pitch. True, it has little pace and the odd delivery has kept a little low, but it was quality bowling and some injudicious batting that were the real reasons for the low scores.
Crucially Tony Piggott, the ECB Pitch Liaison Officer, departed at tea having pronounced himself satisfied.
Warwickshire's bowlers have received a fair amount of stick this season; not least in these pages. Yet they performed superbly as a unit on a day when the momentum was with the opposition, and deserve full credit for dispensing with the cream of Durham's batting in a frenetic 18-over spell.
All of the Durham wickets also owed more to fine bowling than any devil in the pitch. Jon Lewis, Jimmy Maher and Gareth Breese were all struck on the foot by full length, swinging deliveries, while Gordon Muchall played across a straight one and Gary Pratt edged a beauty that was angled across. The pitch was blameless.
Much hard work remains, however. Dale Benkenstein and Philip Mustard are dangerous opponents and every run of a first innings lead could be like gold dust. The pitch is unlikely to become easier to bat on.
Lee Daggett was particularly pleasing. Preferred to Neil Carter in the morning, Daggett scarcely wasted a ball in a super six over burst and thoroughly deserved his two wickets as reward for his controlled swing bowling.
Heath Streak, though rusty, produced late swing to account for both openers, while Dougie Brown was unlucky to have only one of numerous appeals upheld.
Warwickshire may yet come to rue some soft dismissals in their own innings, however. Though the nature of the pitch means their first innings total is not as meagre as it may seem, they still failed to make the most of winning the toss and finished perhaps 100 runs short of a par total.
Though Ian Bell received a perfect yorker and Mark Wagh edged a good one that left him, most of their colleagues had a hand in their own downfall and failed to graft as hard as the conditions required.
Jonathan Trott guided a wide long hop to point, Nick Knight mis-timed his cut to mid off and Dougie Brown was, quite rightly, sent back by Tony Frost after attempting a single to Gary Pratt, who is possibly the best fielder in the country. Alex Loudon and Jim Troughton were beaten for pace and Streak fenced at a ball he could have left.
From a promising platform of 103 for one, Warwickshire lost nine wickets for the addition of just 105 runs in 39 overs.
Much credit is due to Durham's bowlers, however. Otis Gibson, the oldest seamer in the top division of the Championship, produced a post-lunch blast that was described as "the best spell of bowling I've seen this season" by Warwickshire coach, Mark Greatbatch.
Generating surprising pace despite the sluggish surface, Gibson removed the cream of Warwickshire's batting in an 11-ball spell of three wickets for three runs.
Warwickshire battled hard in the morning session.
Knight and Bell defied some accurate bowling and, though the former was never at his best and required treatment after sustaining a cracking blow on the helmet from a Gibson bouncer, they appeared to have drawn the venom from the attack.
Bell (115 balls, seven fours) produced the most fluent batting of the day. Timing the ball beautifully off his legs he also cashed in through the off side. Not for the first time this season, it was an unusu-ally fine ball that dismissed him.
One other potential headache has been avoided for Warwickshire. All five of the club's spin bowlers (Ashley Giles, Daniel Vettori, Loudon,
Nick James and Moeen Ali) were scheduled to be otherwise engaged next week, as injuries and international calls strain the strength of the squad.
There is a good chance Loudon and Bell will be in the England one-day squad named this afternoon, meaning they will be unavailable for next week's Champion-ship game against Lancashire.
To compound matters, Moeen Ali, Andrew Miller and Nick James were called up by the England Under-19 squad and would, under normal circumstances, also be unavailable for Warwickshire. However The Post understands that Moeen Ali will be released by England to play first team cricket for Warwickshire if required.