A bullish middle-order recovery lifted Warwickshire into command against Nottinghamshire on the second day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.
When Tim Ambrose and Sam Hain came together just after lunch, Warwickshire were 48 for four and the match had produced 200 runs for 14 wickets, a puzzlingly thin yield on a surface which, while slow, holds no great demons.
Ambrose promptly put the pitch into perspective by striking 11 fours in a 61-ball half-century which proved to be a springboard to the first period of batting control in the match.
The wicketkeeper’s rapacious 72 (94 balls, 13 fours), along with Hain’s 39 (69 balls, six fours) and Rikki Clarke’s 74 (137 balls, six fours, one six) elevated Warwickshire to 283 for eight, 131 ahead, at the close.
For Nottinghamshire, without a championship win since the first round of matches, the worries mount. To growing concerns about a struggling batting line-up was added another injury blow to the bowling when Luke Fletcher, in the team due to Harry Gurney’s bruised heel, limped off with a groin strain after the first ball of his 11th over.
Before this match Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown called for his team to be more ruthless in championship cricket. They have Nottinghamshire down - can they finish them off?
After resuming on 125 for six, Nottinghamshire lost their last four wickets for another 27, concluding with the stumping of Jake Ball, Ambrose’s sixth dismissal of the innings. Jeetan Patel ended with three for nine, Clarke, the pick of the attack, three for 24 and Boyd Rankin three for 42.
Ball then sent out a strident message to England’s selectors with a fiery pre-lunch burst of 5.1-1-12-3, as Varun Chopra, Andy Umeed and Ian Bell edged into the cordon.
When Jonathan Trott was lbw to Brett Hutton’s fifth ball, it was 48 for four and game on. But Hain and Ambrose halted the collapse with a stand of 69 in 15 overs and, after Hain edged off-spinner Matthew Carter behind, Ambrose and Clarke added 64 in 20.
Mullaney’s third smart slip-catch of the innings removed Ambrose, off Samit Patel, but another valuable partnership followed as Clarke advanced to a measured half-century (106 balls) in a stand of 55 with Keith Barker. The latter was stumped off Mullaney and Clarke clipped Ball to deep mid-wicket five overs before the close but Nottinghamshire have some serious batting to do to escape trouble.