DERBY (second day): Derbyshire 270 and 3-0 v Warwickshire 310 (IJL Trott 104, DL Maddy 57)
For the second time in 48 hours, Warwickshire ended the day on top but with a degree of dissatisfaction - and with an injury scare, to boot.
After commendably grafting their way to 238 for three, their position of strength was undermined by some careless, hapless and, at times, atrocious batting late in the day.
The application of Jonathan Trott, whose superb four-hour innings of 104 (191 balls, nine fours) was the undoubted highlight of an indifferent batting display, left Warwickshire only 40 runs ahead.
Trott's first century since May 2006 in first-class cricket displayed all the qualities needed to score runs on a pitch that has proved willing to yield them to those who knuckled down, despite its inconsistent bounce. Derbyshire's tailenders showed that yesterday afternoon; Warwickshire's fell apart like a cheap watch.
Trott's innings was excellent; a mixture of fine strokeplay, astute decisionmaking and great patience, a virtue especially tested by Nayan Doshi's negative leg-stump line and by any one of Derbyshire's similar seamers who regularly tried to take his head off.
After only scoring 396 runs during the whole of last season, he is already close to breaking that figure in his third game of 2008, having amassed 320 in his five Championship innings thus far.
Trott said afterwards: "I hate getting out for small hundreds but I will take it. It's quite hard to bat out there with the variable bounce and, if anything, it is easier to score with the new ball than the old. It was reverse-swinging quite a lot and it is a strange wicket."
Trott may have felt some pressure to convert more of his good starts to centuries - he has scored 80, 48 and 82 already this season - but, apart from a couple of nervous moments in the nineties, he never looked in too much danger of missing out on three figures here.
He can count himself unlucky not to be there today after his innings was cruelly ended by a ball that kept very low from Tom Lungley and trapped him lbw.
Trott added: "I've worked hard over the winter with the England Lions and I am pretty happy with my form. I have been a bit unlucky at times this season but I am more relaxed at the crease now.
"Maybe in the past I have been too anxious to get centuries and been guilty of trying to make things happen; now I just try to let things come a bit more naturally but I'm not being easy on myself. Any time you get out, it still hurts. It is annoying that we do not have a hundred-odd lead."
Nevertheless, Trott's contribution was absolutely vital in the context of this game, which is still very much in the balance. Opener Ian Westwood fell in the second over of the morning, caught behind by David Pipe after loosely swishing at one off the back foot.
A sloppy dismissal, at least it brought Ian Bell's fluidity to the wicket early on. At times he made batting look easy.
On 28, he reached 5,000 first-class runs for Warwickshire quicker than any man who had not played first-class cricket for another team previously.
Bell ended the day on 48, courtesy of a fine athletic catch down the legside by Freddie Klokker off the bowling of Charl Langeveldt. That was just reward for the South African; he had looked the only one likely to even mildly trouble Bell and had seen the prize scalp dropped on 16 from a similar chance by Pipe, who later succumbed to a foot injury.
Not to underplay the severity of his knock, it was the condition of another wicketkeeper that dominated the Bears' thoughts after news that Tim Ambrose had sustained a neck injury in the warm-up.
Unlike Pipe, the Warwickshire and England wicketkeeper emerged to bat at No 8 after sustaining it, much to the relief of the visitors and, in his current form, to the chagrin of the touring New Zealanders and Derbyshire.
He looked in fine fettle, but was left stranded on 34 after his batting partners' inexcusable inability - especially Neil Carter's - to hang around.
However, as Warwickshire came to field for the last two overs of the day, it was Michael Powell who wore the gloves and I understand that 19-year-old Richard Johnson has been summoned from Second XI duty as possible cover today.
With England's team for the first Test due to be announced over the weekend, that is clearly a cause for concern.
In the first two sessions, only Langeveldt looked a threat. Jon Clare, whose batting on day one has helped make this game a close contest, bowled too short. Perhaps that is what surprised Darren Maddy, who was dismissed after ill-advisedly shouldering arms to a full and straight one for a very tidy 57 (105 balls, 10 fours).
Warwickshire's innings was littered with unforced dismissals. Powell was not among those guilty as he got a beauty from Langeveldt shortly after tea and was caught behind, but what followed was not so innocent.
Ant Botha skied one from Nayan Doshi, the man he replaced at Warwickshire, when trying to fetch one from outside off-stump only to be caught by Rikki Clarke who rushed in from mid-wicket.
Ian Salisbury went to a similar shot shortly afterwards for three, but will be disappointed not to have got the same height with his slog-sweep; the ball just plopping into Klokker's gloves.
Carter could not resist a short ball from Lungley and hooked it straight to fine leg, where substitute fielder Wayne White, who had just been re-positioned, was waiting.
Monde Zondeki was bowled next ball to give the hitherto ordinary Lungley his third wicket in seven balls and his figures a great deal of unwarranted respectability. He had previously gone for nought for 63 off 17 overs.
He ended with four victims after making James Anyon nick one for six.
* Warwickshire completed an innings and six runs victory over their Surrey counterparts in their opening Second XI Championship fixture of the season at Cheam.
Surrey were dismissed for 213 in their second innings, with Chris Woakes again impressing with the ball. He claimed two for 37 from 19 well-directed overs, while Calum MacLeod took three for 41 and Tim Groenewald three for 30.
Andrew Miller (one for 31) and Stewart Hole (one for 36) were the other wicket takers. Tony Frost and Richard Johnson shared the wicket-keeping duties.
Warwickshire took 20 points from the game; Surrey just three.