Woakes and Barker turn things around for Warwickshire at Nottinghamshire

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Chris Woakes and Keith Barker helped turned around Warwickshire’s fortunes with splendid centuries on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

After sliding to 17 for four during a torrid opening hour, the visitors responded to reach stumps on 372 for nine, after Woakes scored 121 and Barker made 113.

Luke Fletcher, with three for 70, and Jackson Bird, who took three for 81, were the pick of the home attack but as the wicket flattened out the batsmen took over.

With Ian Bell missing through injury Woakes deputised as captain and opted to bat first after winning the toss. With a succession of early wickets falling it looked as if the Bears may have misread the conditions but Woakes led the recovery, batting for 187 deliveries on his way to his ninth first class ton.

Barker’s century was his sixth, brought up with a huge maximum. In all, he faced 113 balls and hit 14 fours.

Fletcher bowled as if he had a point to prove during the morning session. The 27 year old had been farmed out on loan to Derbyshire for the opening weeks of the season and was only recalled when Jake Ball was summoned away to join England.

Even then, Fletcher may not have been involved had Luke Wood not reported in with back pain but the big fast bowler took three wickets to help reduce Warwickshire to 60 for five at lunch.

Bird, rested for last week’s draw against Middlesex, announced his own return with an equally impressive opening burst which accounted for Varun Chopra, taken at first slip for four.

Fletcher then removed Ian Westwood, Laurie Evans and Sam Hain in an 11-over spell which brought him figures of three for six, with his debit column including a wide and a no ball.

Steven Mullaney lived up to his reputation as someone who can winkle out a batsman just before lunch, aided by Tim Ambrose’s decision not play at one that just shaped back and clipped his pad.

From 60 for five the visitors forged their way back into the contest thanks, initially, to an innings of high quality from Jonathan Trott, who made 68. Watchful from the outset, he accelerated spectacularly after reaching his 50 from 101 deliveries.

Four consecutive boundaries came from the bowling of Brett Hutton, who then exacted revenge by plucking a one-handed catch out of the air to remove Trott, off Bird.

Rikki Clarke didn’t stay for long, holing out after chancing his arm against the spin of Samit Patel.

Woakes and Barker began their partnership in mid-afternoon and by the time they were parted had set a new eighth wicket record partnership against Notts, sailing past the 119 that Norman Kilner and Reg Santall put on in 1930.

The unlucky Hutton twice had Woakes dropped in the early part of his innings, with Michael Lumb putting down a difficult chance on 19 and then Mullaney spilling a low opportunity 10 runs later.

From those nervous moments, Woakes blossomed as the bowlers began to tire. Barker, not at his fluent best in the early stages, took what was on offer before feasting greedily in the final session.

With the last pair at the crease Warwickshire need a further 28 runs to secure maximum batting points.