Tony Frost and Rikki Clarke took full advantage of the copious pies on offer when Warwickshire began a two-day friendly against Oxford UCCE at The Parks.
Many years have elapsed since county batsmen visiting the students’ sylvan home ground found the likes of Bernard Bosanquet and Imran Khan around to torment them.
Standards have fallen far – so far that the venue now provides first-class cricketers with little more than an outdoor net. But rarely even in recent years can a bigger array of pasty products have been served up than yesterday.
In front of the hundred species of tree which reportedly surround this elegant ground, Frost and Clarke duly galloped to hundreds of their own.
They feasted hungrily on the dross. Of half-volleys and long-hops were there plenty. Thirty no-balls were donated to the Bears’ cause. But unfurled most was that dear old refugee of the village green, the full toss – and it was clubbed around with glee as Warwickshire amassed 414 for six declared.
Frost struck 112 from 144 balls with 24 fours then sent up a skier to give someone else a go. Clarke hammered 101 from 95 balls with 12 fours and two sixes before effectively retiring as he charged at spinner Robin Lett and was stumped by yards.
The centurions had come together after Darren Maddy, Jim Troughton and skipper Tim Ambrose managed to get themselves out. Maddy and Troughton left straight ones which hit middle-stump and earned an lbw decision respectively. Ambrose ladled a waist-high full toss to long-leg.
Stef Piolet added a harder-worked 32 from number six before Keith Barker enjoyed himself after tea, smiting an unbeaten 70 from 69 balls with 12 fours.
After the decleration, Neil Carter and Jimmy Anyon each took a wicket, caught in the slips, as Oxford reached 27 for two by the close.
Chris Woakes was due to play here but was withdrawn following his selection for the MCC team to face champions Durham in the season’s curtain-raiser at Lord’s starting on Thursday.
If his selection for that match was a pleasant surprise for the 20-year-old, an even bigger one followed yesterday when he was included in England’s provisional 30 for the Twenty20 World Cup this summer. Woakes is unlikely to make the cut when the squad is trimmed to 15 on May 1 but it is still impressive recognition for the young seamer.
Jonathan Trott, who was also due to play at Oxford, pulled out yesterday morning with a sore throat.