Warwickshire trail Glamorgan by 130 runs with all firstinnings wickets in hand
By George Dobell Chief Cricket Writer at Edgbaston
Warwickshire produced fine performances with the bat, the ball and in the field as they took a firm grip on the first game of the Championship defence, against Glamorgan.
It has been widely predicted that Warwickshire's attack would struggle to bowl sides out this season. The manner in which they dismantled the visitors' strong battling line-up eloquently answered such doubters, however, and while several of the Glamorgan batsmen may have played a part in their own downfall, Warwickshire showed once again that it does not pay to underestimate them. At least while Ashley Giles is available, anyway.
Giles expertly exploited a pitch that had been designed to encourage him, recording his best figures since 2002 and the best figures by a Warwickshire spinner since Mark Wagh's seven for 222 against Lancashire in September 2003.
This was an all the more valuable performance as Nick Knight had lost the toss and Glamorgan's batsmen had appeared well set.
On a pitch that holds few terrors for batsmen, Glamorgan progressed to 67 without loss and 138 for two. But the visitors lost eight wickets for 60 runs in 24 overs as Giles, with good support from Nick Warren, denied the visitors even a single batting bonus point.
To further delight a modest first day crowd, Warwickshire's openers made deep inroads into Glamorgan's total before bad light brought an early close.
Knight appeared in particularly fine form. Following his century at Lord's he saw off an aggressive opening spell from Simon Jones, unleashing some flowing drives, and Warwickshire will start this morning in a good position to build a substantial first innings lead.
But the day belonged to Giles. This was just his 14th Championship game since the end of 2000 and he admitted to some nerves before play. Yet from the moment he was introduced into the attack in the 30th over, he found just enough turn to trouble all the batsmen and, bowling exclusively over the wicket, recorded his 18th five- wicket haul for Warwickshire.
Giles was well supported by Warwickshire's faster bowlers. Although they rarely looked threatening, they bowled few poor balls and ensured the visitors could never relax.
Perhaps the pick of them was Warren. After Glamorgan's openers had made a sound start, it was he who made the breakthrough. Pitching the ball very full and searching for every possibility of movement, he beat Ian Thomas, playing across one that may have kept a fraction low.
Dougie Brown followed up with the wicket of former team-mate David Hemp, well caught low at second slip edging one angled across him that he had to play.
Elliott and Michael Powell looked unflustered, however, as they added 53 for the third wicket in 17 overs. Powell was perhaps the more impressive, sweeping a six off Giles and dealing harshly with anything pitched short, but Elliott punished when the bowlers overpitched and, having survived a very confident appeal for caught behind in the first over, looked ominously solid.
The turning point came through a marvellous piece of fielding. Michael Powell of Warwickshire, perching under the helmet at short leg, somehow held on to a ball straight off the face of his namesake's bat, handing Giles his 300th first-class wicket for Warwickshire and their side a vital incision.
Giles followed up with a beauty which turned to beat Elliott's forward push before Mark Wallace's ill-judged
attempt at a sweep succeeded only in dragging the ball on to the stumps and Robert Croft was bowled as he tried to whip the ball through midwicket against the spin.
Matthew Maynard departed, slashing without foot movement at a wide ball, while Alex Wharf was taken at bat-pad, prodding at one that came on to him quicker than he anticipated. David Harrison followed, prodding outside his off-stump, and Darren Thomas was the last to go, beaten by a quicker one.
Warren finished with career-best figures, while Keith Piper will have done his prospects of first team cricket no harm at all. On his first Championship start for 18 months gave a wonderful reminder of his abilities with a marvellous catch, low and to his right, to dismiss Maynard and produced some fine work standing-up to Ian Bell's medium pace.
Last season Knight talked much about the importance of momentum. Yesterday Warwickshire bucked the disadvantage of losing the toss to take this game by the scruff of the neck. n Warwickshire's seconds take on Oxford UCCE in a one-day friendly at The Parks today. The Warwickshire side includes Naqaash Tahir, who will be playing as a specialist batsman but is expecting to be bowling again very soon, and Knowle and Dorridge wicketkeeper Spencer Platt.
TEAM: I Westwood, A Loudon, T Penney (capt), J Troughton, C Cheslin, D Dalton, Tahir, S Platt, T Mees, A Shantry, J Anyon.