EDGBASTON (final day): Warwickshire 433-8 dec v Leicestershire 357
Warwickshire (12pts) drew with Leicestershire (10pts)
It was rarely pretty and never thrilling, but Warwickshire ended the rain ravaged championship match against Leicestershire with the first shoots of recovery poking through at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire fought hard throughout this match and were rewarded, after many hours of toil, with full bonus points for just the second time in 16 championship games. A small detail, perhaps, but one of the first tangible signs of progress under the new coaching regime.
They had little option but to play in such an attritional manner. With 145 overs lost to the weather in this game and the sides unable to agree on any declarations, there was no realistic hope of forcing an outright result. The prosaic pursuit of bonus points became everything.
Such days could make all the difference at the end of the season, however, and Warwickshire can feel well satisfied with their sustained performance. It leaves them equal level on points at the top of table.
That Warwickshire did emerge from this game with their noses in front was largely due to Ian Salisbury. The 38-year-old leg-spinner, a controversial signing, proved for the second game in a row to be a valuable addition to the squad. He followed his vital contribution with the bat at Wantage Road with a five-wicket haul here to ensure Warwickshire claimed full bowling bonus points deep inside the final hour of the match.
The change of county has sparked quite a renaissance for Salisbury. It was only his second five-wicket haul in seven seasons and he is believed to be the oldest man to take a five-wicket haul for the club since 47-year-old Norman Gifford did so in July 1987. Salisbury's reward was to win selection in the limited-overs squad for the first time while he may also have squeezed ahead of Ant Botha for the role of first choice spinner in future championship encounters.
Matt Boyce will also remember the day fondly. The Leicestershire opener recorded his maiden first-class century in just his fifth first-class game, demonstrating a sound defence and a pleasing range of attacking strokes.
Boyce (258 balls, 12 fours and two sixes) survived chances on eight and 82, but also swept Ant Botha for a pair of sixes and will only have gained more confidence from the innings. It was a surprise when Jimmy Anyon, armed with the new ball, beat him with a full toss.
Hylton Ackerman also completed his century. Pulling powerfully, Ackerman (133, 17 fours) progressed far more rapidly than his partner and, at times, made the Warwickshire seam attack appear somewhat plain on such a slow surface. They stuck to their task, however.
Afterwards Ashley Giles, the Warwickshire director of cricket, praised his side. "There wasn't much hope of a deal," he said. "We didn't want to give them a sniff of victory and they didn't want to give up the chance of five bonus points.
"This season is going to be a bit of a scrap and we don't want to give anything away. Whether it was pulling out at eight down [and denying Leicestershire the chance of a third bowling bonus point] or bowling them out, every point counts."
Giles also praised Salisbury. "The key to his bowling has been his control. His googly has been very good and he's blowing better than he has for a couple of years. I don't think he's blocking the progress of a younger player. There's not really a young spinner on the staff who looks as if he's going to come into the team in the next couple of years."
Salisbury didn't find extravagant turn. But there was just enough to keep the batsman honest and his variation and control was impressive. The ball that clipped the top of Ackerman's off stump as the batsman tried to cut was a beauty, while Dillon du Preez and Nadeem Malik were beaten by successive deliveries that hurried on to them.
There is still a long journey ahead. Neither Tim Ambrose or Ian Bell, architects of this performance, will be available for long, while it is also worth remembering that this time last year, Warwickshire were top of the first division table.
Navdeep Poonia has been released to play in Scotland's Friends Provident Trophy matches at Derby (tomorrow) and Manchester (Monday).
Warwickshire squad for Monday's Friends Provident Trophy game against Leicestershire at Edgbaston: N Carter, D Maddy (capt), I Bell, I Westwood, J Trott, T Ambrose (wkt), M Powell, A Botha, I Salisbury, M Zondeki, J Anyon, C Woakes, T Groenewald.