First day: Warwickshire trail Middlesex by 280 runs with eight first-innings wickets in hand.

To dismiss a side for under 300 can never be anything but satisfactory, particularly if they have won the toss.

But Warwickshire may feel Middlesex wriggled off the hook somewhat at Edgbaston yesterday and, on a pitch offering all types of bowlers some assistance, it is Middlesex that start the second day in slightly the more comfortable position.

The pitch is already exhibiting some signs of uneven bounce and will surely only deteriorate. If the weather holds, a draw must be the most unlikely of results.

For if Warwickshire were feeling content with their day in the field, their work was soon put into context.

Alan Richardson, the man deemed surplus to requirements here at the end of last season, accounted for both openers in his third over to leave Warwickshire stuttering in reply. Richardson already has as many Championship wickets at Edgbaston in 2005 as he took in 2004 and will feel he has made his point in the most eloquent way of all.

The day had started so well for Warwickshire. Even without captain Nick Knight, who was stuck in traffic for

almost three hours on the M6 and did not arrive until

11.50am, they enjoyed by far the best of the opening session under the stand-in leadership of Dougie Brown.

The return of Dewald Pretorius to the attack certainly gave it a more potent look. He found more pace and bounce than anyone while Neil Carter also bowled with hostility, justifying his inclusion ahead of Nick Warren.

Andrew Strauss was drawn into playing at a good one just outside off stump, Ed Smith fell first ball, prodding at one in the channel outside off stump and Ben Hutton's 64-ball resistance ended after he was softened up by Carter and then edged one he had to play at.

With Owais Shah also falling before lunch, reaching at a ball he should have left, Middlesex were in a precarious position. From 56 for four before the interval, however, they will consider they fought back well.

Scott Styris and Ed Joyce led the recovery. The pair added 83 in just 13 overs with Styris, on Championship debut, in belligerent mood. His innings consisted of 13 boundaries and just one single, occupied only 47 deliveries and appeared to knock the bowlers out of their stride.

Styris took a particular shine to Heath Streak, punishing him with three boundaries in an over when he dropped short and moving to his 50 with two fours off Pretorius through third man.

He was dismissed by the next ball, however, when his uppercut flew to third man. Credit is due to Warwickshire for some canny field-placing. Ian Bell had dropped from the slips to third man for that ball and it is not the first time that Pretorius has taken wickets in that way.

Joyce was less eyecatching, but equally effective. He added a further 94 with Ben Scott and looked a solid player, striking 11 crisp boundaries and moving to within sight of a welldeserved century.

It took a fine piece of bowling to dismiss him. Alex Loudon, operating round the wicket and angling the ball into the left-hander, made one turn away from the bat quite sharply, capturing his maiden first-class wicket for the club.

With all six bowlers taking a wicket and no chances going to ground, this was a generally much improved performance in the field from Warwickshire. But, as a unit, they lost their direction in the afternoon and the fact that they allowed Paul Hutchinson - a man with few pretensions with the bat - to within four of a career-best score is indicative of how Middlesex were able to regroup.

Scott finally fell playing across a straight ball before Richardson clipped one to square leg and Nantie Hayward was bowled slogging, two short of a bonus point.

It was the third time in succession that Warwickshire had dismissed the opposition for under 350, which possibly says more about the earlyseason pitches than anything. But the attack did offer more penetration than for some time and offered improved hope for the rest of the season.

The pitch did offer some help to the bowlers and the ball did swing, but several of the batsmen made technical errors and Warwickshire will feel that, if they apply themselves, there is little reason why they still cannot build a big lead today.

Their reply hardly started in ideal fashion, however. Michael Powell played on, unable to smother the bounce and inswing, before Knight was caught behind off another that climbed on him and moved in the air. First set to Richardson; but there's a long way to go in this match.