Stumps, Day Two: Warwickshire 219 all out and 12-0; Lancashire 152 (Steven Croft 45, Keith Barker 4-30). Warwickshire lead by 79
On Day Two of this relegation battle, Warwickshire seized the initiative back from Lancashire by bowling them out for 152 and then adding a dozen runs to their first innings lead of 67 before rain intervened.
Keith Barker, neglected by Lancashire in his youth and more recently ignored by both England and West Indies, showed what those teams are missing with a masterly display of left arm swing and seam bowling. His 4-30 from 20.5 overs of sustained hostility hastened Lancashire to 152 all out.
Barker now has 58 first-class wickets for the season. He was well supported by the other Warwickshire seamers and by off-spinner Jeetan Patel whose two wickets took him to 99 for the season in all competitions.
Wickets fell in clusters on a tricky batting surface under overcast weather conditions.
From 35-0, Lancashire slumped to 39-4 thanks to the combined efforts of Barker, Chris Wright and Rikki Clarke. Clarke had dropped Haseeb Hameed last evening but redeemed himself by trapping the young opener lbw.
Steven Croft attempted a captain’s rescue in stands of 40 and 55 with Liam Livingstone and Jordan Clark respectively. At 134-5, the match was in the balance. But then Patel and Barker combined to send the last five wickets tumbling ignominiously for just 18 runs.
In what looks certain to be a low scoring game, a first innings lead of 67 looks ominously large for Lancashire to overcome.
Ian Westwood and Alex Mellor survived seven uncomfortable overs before rain swept in and put an early end to the day’s entertainment.
With a better forecast for the next two days, a result looks likely; and, for the moment at least, Warwickshire are in the driving seat. If Hampshire win down at the Aegeas Bowl, the side losing this match will be relegated. Lancashire have some hard work ahead of them if they are to avoid that fate.