First day: Warwickshire have scored 178 for eight against Kent
The fine Australian batsmen David Boon once remarked that he faced only one ball in his entire career that he simply could not have played. All his other dismissals were, to some extent, the result of faulty technique or an error of judgment.
It is a thought that Warwickshire's batsmen would do well to reflect upon after a lacklustre performance on the first day of their key Championship match against Kent. Conditions were tricky and the bowling was challenging but Warwickshire would be deluding themselves if they used those factors as excuses. They batted poorly.
There were mitigating circumstances. A cursory glance at the scoreboard could convince a distant observer that this was a vitally important toss for Kent to win. Certainly the pitch assisted the bowlers, particularly in the first couple of hours, and two or three of the Bears' batsmen were victims of fine bowling.
But if they are honest with themselves, Warwickshire will admit that most of their batsmen played a significant part in their own downfall.
Besides, in Nick Knight Warwickshire have a strong man at the helm. He will not allow his team to hide behind excuses and said last night that Warwickshire would have batted first had he won the toss in any case. "We would have batted; it's a batfirst pitch," he told The Post. "I expect it to deteriorate and become more difficult to bat upon.
"The first hour or so was always going to be difficult for us but it was never a 52 for six wicket. Kent have won the first day.
"We're not bossing games as we did last season. We're losing wickets in clusters and that's disappointing. There are some good reasons - the pitches are different to last year and the conditions have been very different - but it's still something we have to rectify. The lower order have kept us in this game but we're still some way off a par score and we're going to have to do things the hard way again in this game."
While last season Warwickshire passed 400 on the first innings almost as a matter of course, it has proved substantially harder this year. They have passed 400 only three times this season (they've won all three matches), and this innings is likely to become the fifth time in eight matches that they have scored fewer than 310 in the first innings. It's just not enough.
With rain preventing any play before lunch, and Knight losing his eighth toss out of eight, Warwickshire's openers were always likely to face a tricky session.
The captain was first to go, playing on against a fine delivery that nipped back sharply. Ian Bell, attempting a paddle hook, bottom-edged a bouncer into his stumps and Jonathan Trott, failing to move his feet and playing away from his body, followed a good one that left him.
Alex Loudon, playing against his old club, could do little about the beauty that bounced and left him, but Jim Troughton's footless cut at a wide ball is harder to defend.
Dougie Brown was well caught at slip. His edged upper cut looked ugly but he plays the game in a positive manner and if his counterattack had come off he would have been praised heartily.
Kent deserve credit too. They bowled beautifully. The 24-year-old Amjad Khan, Danish-born but qualified to play for England next year, is blessed with sharp pace and, though his short ball is overdone, provides an edge to the attack. Simon Cook, though only medium pace, bowls an immaculate line and length and finds enough movement to trouble most batsmen.
Andrew Hall provided steady, if unthreatening, support.
Kent will find out today if their appeal against the 81/2-point penalty for the poor Maidstone pitch is successful. Though that appears unlikely, Kent could finish this match with a healthy lead in the Championship.
From the depths of 52 for six, Powell and Tony Frost set about rebuilding the innings. Frost, just as he did in the rearguard at Canterbury, unveiled some glorious drives. Powell was more watchful.
Interspersed among grim resistance were some sweet shots, however, particularly a late cut for four off Cook and a flick off his legs off Hall.
The pair added 62 in 22 overs before Powell prodded forward at a fine delivery that left him. Frost undermined
his good work as a footless slash was well held at slip.
Neil Carter and Heath Streak continued the rebuilding as the pitch eased.
Batting with care, they put higher-order colleagues to shame. Streak (78 balls) refused to be drawn into playing away from his body yet put the bad ball away clinically.
Carter (53 balls), dropped on 14 at point by Matt Walker off Cook, was equally watchful. Rather than hit his way out of trouble he fought for his side.
Kent's batting line-up is daunting and Warwickshire have left themselves a mountain to climb but all is not lost. The bounce is already unpredictable and will only worsen. But few matches are won from this position.