The first day of the Bob Willis Trophy match between Warwickshire and Northamptonshire wasn’t the event as scheduled due to pilot sport matches being cancelled, only just short of 24 hours ago, but competitive cricket being back is a very welcome sight.
Warwickshire ended the day with the edge in the game just about, with Northants being bowled out for 142, Olly Stone taking four wickets early on, and Rob Yates passing through to his third first class 50.
It was Olly Hannon-Dalby and Stone who opened the bowling under the overcast skies of Birmingham, as Ben Curran and Emilio Gay walked to the middle for the visitors.
A testing half an hour began for the Northants openers, with Hannon-Dalby and Stone pushing a threatening line, which Ben Curran eventually fell for, playing the former on for 10. Gay followed quickly, edging a delivery from Stone that rose on him to second slip for two, to give Stone the first of his four wickets.
Rob Keogh made a good start, however couldn’t kick on as Ryan Sidebottom sent his middle stump cartwheeling, dismissing him for 26, reducing Northants to 49-3.
Northants three down, it was left to Charlie Thurston and Saif Zaib to survive until lunch, a challenge they pulled through with Tim Bresnan showing excellent skill on his first Championship outing as a Bear. However, success came once again after the break for Warwickshire, as three balls into the afternoon session, Thurston edged Stone to the slips for 15, and Zaib followed, edging Stone behind for a duck.
The fourth of Stone’s wickets came when Adam Rossington top edged a lethal bouncer, and departed without scoring with Burgess taking a comfortable catch underneath.
Bresnan got his reward after some pressing bowling, his first Championship wicket for Warwickshire coming as Ricardo Vasconcelos edged behind for 24. He and Sidebottom kept the pressure on, and Sidebottom got the wicket of Buck for 5.
Sanderson and Procter accelerated and put on a partnership of 49 before spinner Alex Thomson got the breakthrough, trapping Sanderson lbw for 23 after he’d been playing expansively to put pressure back on Bears bowlers. Two balls later Thomson finishes the innings off bowling Jack White, as Northants all out for 142.
Going into the final session of the first day, it was the turn of the Bears to bat, as Will Rhodes and Yates opened the batting, with the latter moving up to replace the absent Dom Sibley.
It wasn’t the ideal start, as the openers couldn’t play on their recent form in the friendlies as Rhodes was trapped LBW by Sanderson for two. Sam Hain, on his return from the England one-day bubble couldn’t make a start as he was dismissed in the same fashion, by Jack White to give him his maiden first class wicket, reducing Warwickshire to 59-2.
Ian Bell departed for nine thanks to a great catch by Josh Cobb in the slips, and Matt Lamb followed, edging to third slip without scoring, seeing the Bears four down for 85.
Yates was the steady batsman throughout wickets falling around him, bringing up his half-century from 74 balls, including eight fours. Himself and Michael Burgess look to settle things in the middle for the hosts, putting on a partnership of 45, as Warwickshire finished the day on 130-4.
Northants had the chance to have the game in the balance, but the late partnership from Burgess and Yates edged Warwickshire just in front going into the second day.
And that ladies and gentlemen is, proper cricket! And it is back.