FRIENDS PROVIDENT TROPHY: Warwickshire 271-9 (I R Bell 108, J O Troughton 53) lost to Somerset 272-2 (C Kieswetter 138, Z de Bruyn 73no) by eight wickets
Warwickshire’s bowlers went through the mincer for the second day running as Somerset handed the Bears an eight-wicket defeat in their Friends Provident Trophy opener at Edgbaston.
Twenty-four hours after going round the park for 672 at Taunton, the Bears’ attack took another mauling as Craig Kieswetter thumped his second ton of the weekend off them.
Warwickshire’s hefty 271 for eight appeared defendable. But Somerset never looked back after a flying start of 50 in seven overs and Kieswetter thundered to 138 from 131 balls as the visitors galloped to victory with four overs to spare.
You had to sympathise with Bears captain Tim Ambrose, forced to juggle an attack desperately short of experience and cutting edge. Debutants Keith Barker and Steffan Piolet acquitted themselves very and reasonably well respectively but it was a performance in the field to leave a decent-sized crowd subdued and, in some cases, even in lovely spring sunshine, rather grumpy.
Ian Bell had struck his second century of this embryonic season and again batted beautifully to form the backbone of Warwickshire’s innings. After striking 172 in the championship at Taunton, he again glued things together with 108. His fourth one-day century – and first for Warwickshire since 2005 – it was a work of three distinct phases; fluent at first, in a century partnership with Jim Troughton, then solid when five partners departed in ten overs, before accelerating again to finish with 108 from 123 balls with 11 fours. It should have ensured, at the least, a tight contest, only for the Bears’ limitations to be ruthlessly exposed.
With Ian Westwood and Neil Carter injured and Jimmy Anyon and Tony Frost resting minor niggles (the latter pair should be fit to face Hampshire in the championship this week), Warwickshire gave debuts to 20-year-old former Sussex all-rounder Piolet and Barker, 22, a former trainee at Lancashire and striker at Blackburn Rovers, Rochdale (on loan) and Northwich Victoria.
After the Bears were put in, Jonathan Trott edged to second slip in the sixth over but Bell and Troughton added 101 in 18 overs before the latter’s departure for 53 (56 balls, six fours and a six) triggered a collapse. Warwickshire needed more than 15 from experienced trio Darren Maddy, Ambrose and Rikki Clarke.
Piolet and Barker fared very differently in their debut innings. Piolet looked nervous and managed only two in 18 balls but Barker (28 from 42 balls) settled immediately to help Bell add 70 in 13 overs and assure a sizeable total.
As one press-box scribe observed: “Warwickshire will have to bowl badly to lose this”. They did. They started poorly as Naqaash Tahir began his make-or-break season in thoroughly undistinguished fashion and ended horribly as Clarke was lifted for successive sixes by Kieswetter.
Barker offered the bright spot with bowling, but it was an isolated highlight. The match ended with the spectators almost numbed by the ease with which Somerset galloped to victory.