Warwickshire have scored 318 for seven against Nottinghamshire

Warwickshire took a peep into the future yesterday and will have been hugely reassured by the vision.

On the day when Dougie Brown - the last survivor of the treble-winning team of 1994 - was dropped for the first time in years, three men in their early 20s took centre stage.

Ian Westwood, Luke Parker and Tim Ambrose all compiled accomplished half-centuries to steer their side away from trouble on the first day of their Championship game against Nottinghamshire.

Their intervention was vital. On another Edgbaston pitch of variable bounce, Warwickshire's more experienced players struggled to take advantage of winning an important toss and it was left to the youngsters to ensure the hosts go into the second day with their noses just about in front.

Already the visitors' spinner, Graeme Swann has delivered 34 overs, and batting fourth could prove problematic. This pitch will not improve.

Not so long ago it would have seemed unthinkable to leave out Brown. By his reckoning, it is the first time he has been dropped from the Championship side since 2000, and on that occasion he responded by making a double-century on his return.

He also remains the second highest wicket-taker in the Championship this season. It doesn't pay to right him off.

This time it may prove more problematic to work his way back, however. The club are keen to build a side for the future and know that the 36-year-old Scot has papered over the cracks for some time.

The new director of coaching knows that eventually the team will have to manage without Brown, and will be able to use the remaining weeks of the season to explore his other options.

It would be a shame if Brown was paying the price for voicing his concerns over the new regime. It is no secret that he has not always seen eye to eye with the new coach this season, but his good intentions cannot be doubted.

Although Mark Wagh again fell early, beaten all ends up by one that swung back into him, Westwood (168 balls, 14 boundaries) was soon into his stride.

The 24-year-old has now passed 50 in four of his last five first-class innings, and batted as well as at any time this season.

Leaving the ball well, he was also quick to pounce on anything short, eased several over-pitched deliveries through mid-off and defended stoutly. Yesterday he looked a fine opening batsman.

With Jonathan Trott he added 110 for the second wicket to give Warwickshire a sound platform. Trott unleashed some fine shots, but again fell short of the big score he requires to get his season back on track.

After a prolific start, he has not passed 50 in 13 Championship innings and must know that his chances of winning a place in this winter's England Academy squad are receding.

When Trott failed to move his feet and under-edged a square cut, it sparked a middle-order collapse. Mark Ealham, finding some swing and varying his pace expertly, took three for 30 in a masterful nine-over spell, cutting through the Warwickshire middle order.

Nick Knight was bowled through the gate, Westwood failed to get far enough forward to one swinging in and Alex Loudon's dismissal meant Warwickshire had lost four for 38.

Loudon is another man who has not passed 50 in Championship cricket since May. Indeed his last eight Championship innings have now garnered just 86 runs. In that same period he has taken six wickets at a cost of 271 runs and his dismissal yesterday - wafting at a wide ball without foot movement - suggested his form is yet to return.

Ambrose and Parker steadied the ship in a sixth-wicket stand of 106. 23-year-old Ambrose (133 balls, 11 fours) is increasingly looking like a fine acquisition and moved to his third score over 50 in four Championship games. It took a ball that kept horribly low to remove him.

But perhaps the most impressive batting of the day came from Parker (133 balls, nine fours), however. The 22-year-old didn't allow the precarious position - or the pressure of being selected ahead of a Warwickshire legend - to bother him.

He produced some delightful shots, with the timing of some of his drives through cover and point betraying significant ability, and it was some surprise when he played across a straight ball with just a couple of overs to go.

Another man the club would like to see as part of their future is Moeen Ali. Although the 19-year-old can hardly be thrilled that he was withdrawn from England U19 duty only to play second team cricket, his mood will have been somewhat placated by Warwickshire's offer of a new two-year deal.

Whether it will be enough to see off the approaches from other clubs remains to be seen.

Worcestershire and Sussex are the rival counties who have formally expressed an interest, although there are thought to be others monitoring the situation.

The club's chief executive, Colin Povey, said: "We are obviously keen to retain his services. We have made him what we hope will be a very attractive offer for someone at his stage of development." n Lee Daggett and Nick James have been included in the Warwickshire Second XI side to play Northants in the Championship game starting at Stratford today. The pair have both been on the injury list for some time.