A superb unbeaten 151 from Warwickshire opener Ian Westwood helped the visiting side to an impressive 270-4 on day one of their encounter with Yorkshire at Headingley.
The hosts started brightly as a full, swinging delivery from Tim Bresnan with the third ball of the match was too good for Warwickshire captain Varun Chopra, who edged behind to Andrew Hodd. His decision to bat first was vindicated by his team-mates, however, as Westwood and William Porterfield recovered the situation in ideal conditions for batting.
Porterfield was dropped by Bresnan at third slip off the bowling of Matthew Fisher, who earned an extended run in the first team after bowling impressively on his first-class debut at Trent Bridge. Yorkshire generally bowled full and straight in the morning session, but seldom troubled the Warwickshire pair.
Yorkshire are without the injured Ryan Sidebottom for this match, and his absence may prove as costly to the 2014 County Championship winners as any of their heralded England absentees.
Veteran spinner James Middlebrook, making his second debut for Yorkshire after being signed as an emergency replacement for Adil Rashid, struggled for consistency and Porterfield deposited him into the football stand for six in his second over. Westwood brought up his 50 before the break, and Chopra would have been the happier of the two captains in spite of his personal failure.
Bresnan struck again after the break when Porterfield played back to a full delivery and was duly caught by Hodd. Westwood continued his focused innings, however, defending Yorkshire’s full bowling and scored particularly well whenever the bowlers strayed onto his legs.
Westwood has only managed one century in the last two seasons of first-class cricket, a 129 against Somerset at Taunton last August. He battled on to reach three figures at Headingley in the last over before tea, cutting the part-time leg spin of Cheteshwar Pujara for three to bring up his century.
The metronomic Steven Patterson had earlier trapped Laurie Evans lbw for 14 to bring Sam Hain to the crease. Hain’s resemblance to England Test opener Jonathan Trott is difficult to overstate, and he started brightly, unveiling a beautiful straight drive off Jack Brooks that was undoubtedly the shot of the day.
After the break, Westwood and Hain continued to score steadily, and the lack of penetration in Yorkshire’s attack (even Jack Brooks looks down on pace) was exposed by the county who finished last season as the runners-up in this competition. Middlebrook appeared to be regaining control from the football stand end, until Hain waltzed down the wicket and slapped him over long-on for six.
Hain reached his 50 with a single, but was trapped lbw to Bresnan with the next ball he faced. It was an industrious innings from the young batsman and displayed a maturity well beyond his 19 years. Once his qualification period has expired, you would expect to see the England selectors taking a keen interest in his progress.
The day, however, undoubtedly belonged to Ian Westwood. He started the day in sunshine and finished under the clouds, and despite being hit twice on the hand by Brooks and Bresnan and losing his judgement momentarily for a couple of loose gestures at cut shots, he battled through the whole 97 overs for a brilliant unbeaten century.
There was a moment of controversy and rare alarm for the man of the day, when Jack Brooks managed a direct hit from mid-on to run Westwood out going for a quick single on 118, but umpire Lloyds declined the appeal, much to the chagrin of the Yorkshire fielders.