Final day: Warwickshire (9pts) drew with Middlesex (12)
Almost nothing of interest occurred at Edgbaston yesterday. An interminable match was finally put out of its misery, though it had long been a candidate for cricketing euthanasia.
At the end of it Warwick-shire had risen to fifth place in the Division One table, but also sunk closer, in terms of points, to the relegation positions. They are now 27 points away from the bottom two; that's four points fewer than the start of the game. The match against a resurgent Yorkshire side, starting tomorrow, will be vital.
In the end the pitch won. That it was the best at Edgbaston this season doesn't say a huge amount; it lacked pace and bounce and contributed greatly to the soporific cricket.
"Experience Excellence" the signs state as spectators enter Edgbaston. Unless the pitches improve they would be better to say Experience Ennui. Its deathly slow character directly contributed to the fact that only 378 paying spectators (non-members) attended over the entire four-day duration of this match.
If Middlesex are relegated, they will deserve little pity. One might have thought that a team rooted to the foot of the table might try to a little harder to engineer a victory, but they appeared quite happy to settle for the draw that does them little good.
They batted on until after lunch with little apparent motive other than to allow one man to complete a personal milestone. Nick Compton (235 balls, eight boundaries) duly crawled to a third first-class century, but cricket is a team game as well as a spectator sport and Compton's innings did little for either.
Suffice it to say, Compton has little in common with his illustrious grandfather. They may both be mammals, but it pretty much stops there.
Scott Styris (95 balls, seven fours and a six) at least tried to force the pace but, on a moribund surface and with a listless partner, was unable to progress quickly enough to enable an early declaration.
Warwickshire were not helped by injuries to two of their front line bowlers. Alex Loudon cricked his neck after a game of football before play, while Jimmy Anyon jarred his left leg while delivering his second ball and left the field. Anyon's injury is not thought to be serious, but Loudon is highly unlikely to be fit to play against Yorkshire.
In their absence, Neil Carter worked hard and richly deserved more fortune. Time and again outside edges rushed to the third man boundary, but Carter deserves praise for his efforts on a blisteringly hot day and showed admirable heart and stamina.
Paul Harris also bowled tidily enough. Ed Joyce was deceived by his arm-ball, but it would have. In Harris, Warwickshire have not signed a match-winner, but he looks a useful bowler who will, at least, provide a measure of control in the field.
Warwickshire can't just rely on declarations to achieve victories, however. They need to shape matches with incisive bowling and positive batting. On such pitches that will never be easy but the oft-repeated need for more incisive bowlers has never been more apparent.
Warwickshire made the smallest of token efforts towards their victory target of 336. Although they opened with Carter, his departure, after just eight balls, signalled the end of the 'charge'.
Mark Wagh continued his rehabilitation with another assured contribution, while Jonathan Trott underlined his growing maturity by seeing his side to safety with an uncharacteristically dour innings.
Jim Troughton failed again, however. His last six Championship innings have now produced just 22 runs (0, six, two, seven, four and three) and his first team place must be hanging by a thread. With Loudon injured and England deciding that Ian Bell will not be released to play against Yorkshire, Troughton may yet win a reprieve, but he is desperately in need of runs.
Meanwhile Luke Parker is the notable absentee from the Warwickshire side selected to travel to Sussex as the Second XI Championship programme resumes today.
Instead Parker is in line for a first-team call. Warwick-shire have preferred the 22-year-old from Coventry to the more experienced Michael Powell and he could be in line to replace the out of form Troughton or the injured Loudon at Scarborough. Moeen Ali, who has departed on England Under-19 duty, could also be recalled if required.