Jonathan Trott taking a catch in his trouser pocket was the highlight as Warwickshire’s rain-trimmed championship match with Sussex headed ominously towards stalemate on the third day at Edgbaston.
Sussex closed last night on 276 for four in reply to the Bears’ 407. A draw beckons after the loss of virtually the whole first day left two moderate attacks too much to do to engineer a victory push.
Warwickshire had just a sniff of one in the second session yesterday courtesy of Trott’s trouser masterpiece and two wickets by Naqaash Tahir which left the visitors 151 for four – 107 adrift of the follow-on figure.
But Sussex regrouped emphatically. Fifth-wicket pair Carl Hopkinson and Luke Wright added an unbroken 125 and only some bowling of potency hitherto latent in this match can divert it from its cul-de-sac today.
You never know. Could a Bears bowler emulate Allan Donald’s blistering match haul of eight for 51 which did for Sussex at Edgbaston in 1997? Or will a Sussex representative evoke the spirit of Malta-born George Leach whose eight for 61 sent Warwickshire hurtling to defeat here exactly 100 years ago on Sunday?
Probably not. And, barring any Bears heroics, their long search for a championship win this season will extend into next week against Lancashire.
The third day began encouragingly for Warwickshire supporters. All night they had tossed and turned, agonising over whether the overnight total of 349 for nine could be extended by one run to secure a fourth batting point.
The answer arrived immediately as Chris Woakes chopped the first ball for the requisite run. That sealed the fourth point and Woakes and Tahir went on to harvest a fifth with a last-wicket stand of 65. Woakes posted a championship-best 49 not out and was cruelly stranded when Tahir chipped a return catch to spinner Ollie Rayner.
Then came the difficult bit. Warwickshire have found wicket-taking a troublesome business all season so bagging 20 in fewer than six sessions looked a tall order. They started poorly by serving up loose new-ball fare which allowed Sussex to reach 50 in 14 overs. The one wicket secured before lunch was donated rather then forced, Chris Nash lifting a wide ball from Tahir to point.
An hour after lunch came Trott’s party piece. Ed Joyce, facing Ant Botha, clipped the ball firmly off his legs and Trott, at short leg, took evasive action. He turned his back, leapt in the air and landed, expecting to see the ball speeding to the boundary, only to discover that it had lodged snugly into his right trouser pocket. Law 32 (3) (ii), as every schoolboy knows, cites that a fieldsman’s catch is fair if the ball “accidentally lodges in his clothing”.
Exit Joyce, amid much guffawing.
Tahir then inveigled Murray Goodwin into a leading edge to mid-on and ended Michael Yardy’s 42-over vigil with a nifty off-cutter but Hopkinson and Wright settled in against an attack sorely lacking penetration.
The impetus of an overseas player – still at least a week or two away, though Warwickshire have identified and approached a couple of targets – cannot arrive soon enough.
n Twenty-two wickets fell on the second day of Warwickshire’s Second XI Championship game away to Nottinghamshire.
Resuming their first innings on 37 without loss, the Bears advanced to 191 all out thanks largely to Richard Johnson’s 56.
Nottinghamshire were then skittled for 78 (Gary Montgomery and Tom Allin taking three wickets apiece) leaving the Bears a victory target of 160 with a day and a bit to spare. By the close had reached 27 for two.