Edgbaston (first day of four): Warwickshire 209-3 (D L Maddy 73, I J L Trott 62no) v Derbyshire
Sometimes it is easy to understand the reluctance of the media to embrace county cricket.
A game that meanders - and this game barely had that sense of direction - along without any sense of duty towards its audience is a game that is in danger of becoming an irrelevance.
Even for those of us who love and value county cricket, days like Wednesday are hard to justify. Played on a pitch so moribund that the game was bound to become an attritional encounter, matters were not helped by another disappointing display of umpiring that saw more than 22 overs culled from the day unnecessarily.
Certainly umpire Allan Jones’ demeanour does not exude enthusiasm for the sport. With a face as long as Livery Street, the only time he seemed animated was when reacting to heckles from spectators.
Yes, the light was not great but cricket cannot afford to be so precious. County cricket is competing against so many other leisure attractions and if umpires continually lead players from the pitch (under the ubiquitous ‘health and safety’ banner), the numbers of supporters will continue to decline.
And decline it has. Not so many years ago, championship games between these teams - traditionally the August Bank Holiday fixture - attracted crowds of up to 10,000. On the first day at Edgbaston fewer than 1,000 attended.
This Warwickshire side are improving. From the low of last year they have recovered admirably and have become a decent, tough and attritional side. It would be hard, however, to justify any claim that they offer either success or great entertainment.
They have won only one championship game at Edgbaston in the last two years (and that was in April 2007, against Sussex) and so far this year not a single home game has even resulted in an outright result. The dwindling number of spectators is not hard to understand.
The shame is, county cricket at its best has so much to offer. Given decent pitches (offering pace and bounce), a sensible fixture list (following predictable patterns), more sensitive umpiring (play has to continue in all but the most ferocious conditions) and a media that is not quite so obsessed with football, this game will flourish.
But if mediocre pitches, umpires and players are allowed to prosper, the county game is in real trouble. Some will say it doesn’t matter. They will point to the revenue from television coverage, the numbers buying tickets for international cricket and the interest in Twenty20 and insist that all is well.
But without county cricket, the foundations of the international game are gone. Where else can our future Test players learn their trade? Where else will youngsters gravitate for coaching and opportunity? Besides, many of us still believe that the county game has a value in its own right and, given just a chance, could flourish once again.
Even in this game, despite the deathly slow pitch, the murky light and umpires that appeared to suffer from agoraphobia, there were diamonds amid the dust.
Warwickshire, reacting with patience and application to the conditions, produced an admirably determined performance and earned themselves the upper hand.
Jonathan Trott (147 balls, eight fours), his bat as broad as a barn door, passed 50 for the seventh time in this championship season and resumes this morning within sight of his third century. As ever, the clips off his legs were marvellous, though it’s hard to believe that a man as talented as Rikki Clarke could feed the shot quite so obligingly.
Darren Maddy (135 balls, ten fours) also batted well. Though it took him half-an-hour to get off the mark, he drove sweetly and also played well off his legs in recording his first championship half-century since April. He appeared utterly disgusted with himself after he steered a short ball directly to point with a century his for the taking.
Earlier Ian Westwood fell in just the sixth over. Driving well away from his body, he edged to second slip to reward Graham Wagg for a decent opening spell.
Tony Frost, playing as a specialist batsman and promoted to three in the order, saw off the new ball calmly, displaying those delicious cover drives that have become his hallmark, but then pulled an innocuous short ball outside off stump directly to mid-wicket.
* Navdeep Poonia issued a timely reminder of his ability with an unbeaten innings of 94 for Warwickshire Second XI.
Poonia (141 balls, 11 fours and two sixes), has been dropped from the first team but helped Warwickshire build a lead of 63 by stumps on the first day of the game against Leicestershire at Kenilworth Wardens. He added 80 for the first wicket with Richard Johnson (30) and then stood firm as Luke Parker (run out for nine), James Ord (one) and Steff Piolet (no score) fell in quick succession.
Earlier Warwickshire’s bowlers made excellent use of winning the toss in damp conditions as the visitors were dismissed for just 106. Naqaash Tahir claimed three for 31, Andy Miller three for 15, Tim Groenewald two for 19 and Jimmy Anyon one for 21. The other wicket was the result of a run out.