At Hove (first day): Sussex have scored 282 for six wickets against Warwickshire...
The lack of bite in Warwickshire's bowling was exposed at Hove yesterday as they failed to take advantage of helpful conditions on the first day of their Championship match against Sussex.
Warwickshire did not bowl badly but, on a two-paced pitch offering considerable assistance to the seamers, the home side would have been the happier of the teams at the close.
Warwickshire again missed the cutting edge that would have helped the champions exploit the conditions but can at least take pride in the fact that they gave nothing away. It was a professional, workmanlike performance; but one that lacked inspiration.
Only with great grit will batsmen prosper on this pitch but the stand of 164 in 51 overs between Murray Goodwin and Michael Yardy showed what could be achieved through application.
Yardy's crab-like stance is reminiscent of a left-handed Peter Willey, with both feet pointing down the pitch at the bowler. He moves a great deal as the ball is delivered, too, utterly contrary to the coaching manual, but his method seems to work. He has scored two centuries in the Championship season already and was awarded his county cap just before play.
Always happier on the front foot, Yardy (190 balls, ten fours) drives particularly well but was quick to latch on to the short ball which, on this slow surface, tends to sit up invitingly.
Goodwin (183 balls, nine fours) is simply a class act. Possessing a full repertoire of shots, his defence also appears flawless and he was the only man to make batting appear a straightforward business.
This was the 37th firstclass century of his career and must have left his former team-mate Streak wishing that such quality players were again available to Zimbabwe.
Warwickshire started well. Although Nick Knight lost the toss for the fourth time in a row this Championship season - his fortune of last year is well and truly over - the pitch offered substantial help in the first session. Sussex would have been relieved to reach lunch with only two wickets lost.
Dewald Pretorius nipped one through Richard Montgomerie's slight forward prod to strike him on the back pad in the day's fourth over, before Neil Carter ended Ian Ward's torturous 48-ball defiance with a fine ball that bounced and left the batsman.
Ward had been dropped the over before, Alex Loudon putting down a low chance at second slip off Dougie Brown. But the fieldsman made amends moments later, flinging himself to his right to take a quite breathtaking one-handed catch.
The Hove square is not the easiest on which to bowl. From the Cromwell Road End bowlers run down a relatively steep incline before taking a step up into their delivery stride. From the Sea End they face an uneven run uphill.
It appeared to disrupt the rhythm of Pretorius in particular. He struggled with his line and length after a good first spell and proved expensive.
The other seamers gave little away, however. Brown and Streak bowled with great discipline, and Carter, who was the pick of the bowlers, settled on to a good length and proved the most threatening of the attack.
With the pitch offering little help to spin, Knight used Ashley Giles sparingly and ignored Loudon. He did, however, call upon six seamers in an attempt to unlock the devil in the surface but to little avail.
Warwickshire fought their way back into the match with four wickets in the final session.
But three of the wickets owed much to the foibles of the pitch and will have served as a warning to Warwickshire that much hard work will be required to pass the Sussex total.
Yardy was defeated by one that kept low, though he didn't help himself by playing across the line, before Goodwin mistimed his attempted pull to extra cover as the ball stopped on him.
Matt Prior, anxious to impress England selectors Geoff Miller and Rod Marsh,
was blameless for his dismissal. Prior could only lob a catch off his glove as a good length delivery from Brown reared up at him. Although Chris Adams looked ominously solid, Robin Martin-Jenkins gave his wicket away moments from the close, hooking straight to long leg.
The wicket provided Warwickshire with a second bonus point to take them back to the top, albeit temporarily.
Meanwhile, the club's search for a wicketkeeper goes on. Ian Clifford, released at the end of last season, has declined the club's invitation to return, opting to concentrate on his career outside the game.
Sandy Allen, the other keeper released at the end of last season, has not been approached by the club.
* Warwickshire's second team begin a three-day Championship match against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl today. The 20-year-old Paul Harrison, who has played for Sussex, Middlesex and was a member of the Loughborough UCCE team which defeated Worcestershire yesterday, will keep wicket.