By George Dobell Chief Cricket Writer At Edgbaston

Warwickshire (380-4) lead Glamorgan by 182 runs with six first innings wickets remaining

A superb century from Michael Powell helped Warwickshire tighten their grip on their Championship game with Glamorgan.

Coming to the wicket at a time when his side were wobbling, he produced perhaps the finest innings of his career, an unbeaten 144, to take his side into a position of apparent invincibility in this match.

A fourth-wicket partnership of 153 in 52 overs between Ian Bell (208 balls, 11 fours) and Powell (261 balls, 18 fours) provided the platform for Warwickshire. But it was the unbroken stand of 152 between Powell and Dougie Brown (118 balls) that rubbed Glamorgan's noses in it during a one-sided final session. Warwickshire resume this morning against a weary and dispirited side.

Yet the morning had started poorly for the hosts. On a pitch that appeared to have freshened up overnight, Mark Wagh was undone by extra bounce, trying to avoid a short ball, before Nick Knight was caught off the splice by a brute of a delivery that leapt at his throat from just short of a length.

With Jonathan Trott also undone by the short ball, gloving his attempted hook, Warwickshire were in danger of surrendering the initiative. But such situations seem tailor-made for Michael Powell.

Powell appears to reserve his best for when it is most required. With Glamorgan's battery of fast bowlers making the ball dart around in an overcast morning session, conditions were far from easy. But Powell timed the ball beautifully from the off, getting off the mark with a flashing drive through cover and outscoring Bell throughout their stand.

Powell's career has enjoyed a splendid renaissance since he relinquished the captaincy. This was his third century in ten Championship games since the start of 2004, and he resumes this morning a single short of equalling his highest Championship score - 145 against Northants in


The discrepancy between his batting average as captain and player is not that large: 31.75 compared to 34. But when he reflects at the end of his career, he may consider that the burden of captaincy at a tender age - he was just 25 - cost him momentum at a key stage of his career and, in the long term, perhaps an international career.

He gave just one chance, on 46, when Simon Jones at point was unable to hold on to a fierce effort off Alex Wharf, but this was a top quality performance from a man batting as well as at any time in his career.

Perhaps the best way to describe the quality of his innings yesterday is to say he outclassed even Bell; high praise indeed.

His 50 (93 balls) was reached with a delightful square drive off Wharf, followed immediately with a punched on-drive. But it was the discipline with which he left the ball that was as impressive as his stroke-play and his century (196 balls).

Bell was not at his best. He was dropped twice, on 29 and again on 51, both times pushing at balls he could have left outside the off stump, yet he also displayed his full range of strokes, driving off the back foot with rare class. He was eventually beaten by Croft's arm-ball, but this innings will have been noted by the England selectors and done his cause no harm.

Dougie Brown's arrival at the crease signalled a change of tempo. Struck on the back by an unintentional beamer from Jones, Brown has struck two sixes and nine boundaries so far; flogging a tiring attack to all parts as he built on the hard work of the upper order. It was a muscular innings, as unselfish as ever, and a last session of 138 runs in 32 overs ensured Warwickshire attained maximum bonus points.

Glamorgan's bowlers stuck to their task pretty well. They possess a handy squad of seamers, blessed with pace and bounce, while Robert Croft found some turn and continually asked questions of all the batsmen.

Had Matthew Elliott, at second slip, held on to the simple first chance offered by Bell off Darren Thomas, the day could have taken a wildly different course. Yet such margins make a telling difference at this level and Warwickshire exploited such chances ruthlessly.

It is hard to remember such a commanding performance from a Warwickshire team. With maximum bonus points already secured, they have so far comprehensively outplayed a strong Glamorgan side, and look to have come on a step even from last year's triumph. n An unbeaten 102 (144 balls, eight fours and a six) from Ian Westwood helped Warwickshire seconds to a seven-wicket victory over Oxford UCCE at The Parks.

Westwood added 104 for the third-wicket with Alex Loudon (30) after Chris Cheslin (0), on debut, and Jim Troughton (seven) had gone early. Captain Trevor Penney also weighed in with an unbeaten 45.

Earlier Oxford had been dismissed for 195, with Loudon (three for 30) and Troughton (two for 29) impressing. Omar Anwar made 76 for the hosts.