Stumps, Day Two: Warwickshire 345-6 (Trott 123, Bell 66, Ambrose 53) lead Surrey 273 (Finch 110; Patel 5-62) by 72 runs
Warwickshire emerged the second day of their fixture against Surrey at Guildford on top as an excellent century from Jonathan Trott helped the visitors to a 72-run lead at the close.
Trott was greeted with a bouncer from Mark Footitt, and was often tested by the short ball by all of Surrey’s quicks, but never looked too troubled, ducking and swaying with relative ease.
It took nearly two dozen deliveries for his first boundary, a crisp drive through the covers giving the Woodbridge Road crowd a taste of the day to come.
The eighth boundary of Trott’s innings took him to his first milestone of the day, before he brought up the hundred partnership between he and Ian Bell from the next ball.
From there, he continued to tick the score over with a disregard for spectacle, moving towards three figures with his growing tally mostly unnoticed.
He brought up his 39th first-class century with yet another crunching shot through the covers off Zafar Ansari, his tenth boundary of the day, welcomed with rapturous applause.
Indeed, he looked little short of elegant as he built a considered innings. As the announcement for his century went around the ground, one nearby observer joked that, at the very least, Trott’s strike rate was more than 50, but it was a well-paced innings, contrasting Aaron Finch’s explosive first-day century, but just as crucial to his side’s efforts.
Perhaps the 35-year-old heard the spectator’s retort, because in the following over he cut a wide short ball from Stuart Meaker over backward point for his first maximum. Meaker followed it up with a well-directed bumper that had Trott ducking, before another wide ball was cut through the covers with impeccable timing.
A fantastic innings finally came to an end on 123 as Sam Curran, bowling the second over with the second new ball, trapped him in front with a ball that kept very low. Trott left the field to a much-deserved standing ovation from the gradually depleting crowd, having put his side in a strong position.
Speaking at the close of play, Trott said that the pitch required patience: “It’s quite fast-scoring at times, you can catch it up so there are times where you have to soak up a little bit of accuracy and a bit of pressure and generally you’ll get your rewards,” he said.
“It’s quite a short square and quite quick so any sort of width or any bad balls you can put away so you have to be watchful and patient.
“There’s an opportunity perhaps tomorrow with four wickets in hand so hopefully we can get a few more and see where the game takes us.
“I think I’m going pretty well. At this stage of my career, it’s trying to make sure that Warwickshire are in a good place and a good position and that I’m contributing to the side.
“You don’t need guys who are over 35 hanging around when they don’t need to be so that’s my goal in trying to help the younger guys come along.”
Accompanying Trott in the mid-afternoon was Bell, at times displaying the type of strokeplay evoking questions over how he lost his place in the England team, playing some beautifully-timed cover drives and perfecting his trademark late cut.
At others, he excited the Surrey fielders with half shots, chances and possible inside edges. Just prior to lunch, Meaker had a confident lbw appeal rejected; midway through the afternoon session, on 33, he flashed hard at a Sam Curran delivery and a diving Rory Burns at second slip was unable to reach it.
Bell brought up his 96th first-class fifty from 106 balls with seven boundaries, and two overs later had to be given not out after missing an attempted sweep that looped up to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, much to the disappointment of the already-celebrating Surrey players.
Bell caused yet another kerfuffle on 65 in similar fashion, only with a much more difficult and impressive catch from Foakes going unrewarded.
On both occasions captain Gareth Batty was the bowler, becoming clearly frustrated with an inability to break the partnership.
His side eventually got their wish, Bell attempting the sweep yet again, only to top edge to Sam Curran in the deep on 66, the youngster taking a fine diving catch.
Tim Ambrose replaced Bell at the crease and continued where his captain had left off, assisting Trott in building Warwickshire’s total and accumulating runs of his own.
Six boundaries came in his half-century and was almost entirely untroubled throughout. He was back in the hut prior to the close after hooking a delivery from Sam Curran to fine leg, departing for 53. It was an incredibly soft dismissal, especially after batting so well during the evening session.
As the afternoon went on, Batty seemed helpless to stop the flow of runs, chasing the ball with his fields on occasion after leaving the cover boundary – a popular target for batsmen – open for much of the day and only temporarily plugging the gap after yet another boundary.
It took nine overs for the hosts to utilise the new ball after experimenting with the left-arm spin of Aaron Finch for an over, a questionable choice given that Batty’s side needed something to happen.
Earlier in the day, Varun Chopra had helped the visitors to a good start, looking confident as he hit two consecutive boundaries through cover from Footitt. He reached 42 – an innings temporarily interrupted by rain – before feathering one to Foakes off his pads, bringing centurion Trott to the middle.
Andy Umeed was the first wicket to fall, his middle stump sent flying by Meaker, and at that point Surrey would have been hopeful of limiting Warwickshire’s total.
A late fightback kept them in the game but, thanks to Trott’s masterclass, it will be an uphill battle if they are to win their first County Championship match at Guildford since 2002.
“We get on well in the middle with regards to how we go about batting and have pretty similar views on batting which is nice,” Trott said of batting with Bell.
“I think playing with each other and talking about cricket is always helpful and it’s always nice to bat with someone with his talent and skill.”