Put in to bat, Warwickshire ended day one on 271 -7 with honours just about even against their close neighbours Worcestershire.
The home side owed much to a sublime knock from 21-year-old Solihull born student Rob Yates. It was his second hundred in succession at Edgbaston. Yates’ sweetly timed drives in the narrow arc between mid-on and mid-off brought him many of his 14 boundaries. He received good support from debutant South African Pieter Malan, with whom he shared a second wicket stand of 77, and Michael Burgess, who scored his first half century of the season and was unbeaten on his highest score for Warwickshire with 65.
Having played at home on a couple of slow paced post-flood pitches, the Worcestershire bowlers enjoyed the bounce and occasional movement offered by the Edgbaston pitch. Yet only Joe Leach and leg spinner Brett D’Oliveira consistently troubled the batsmen in the first half of the day.
The bowlers also lacked the support they could have expected from the close fielders. Daryl Mitchell failed to scoop up a difficult chance at second slip off Malan, and Rikki Wessels dropped much easier first slip chances off Burgess and Danny Briggs. Ed Barnard was the unlucky bowler on two of those occasions.
D’Oliveira bowled with the kind of economic accuracy seldom seen in a leg spinner at Edgbaston since the heyday of Eric Hollies. His 2-31 came off 22 overs.
What little luck the bowlers had came from batting misjudgements. Malan lost his off stump when he left a ball from Malan, and Sam Hain tried a fancy little sweep off D’Oliveira but was bowled round his legs.
Whether the day’s labours have brought a result into sight for either team is doubtful. If groundsman Gary Barwell has seen the weather forecast for Saturday, he might well be putting aside his heavy roller and seeking supplies of gopher wood to construct an ark.
Many cricket fans with long memories still hanker after the era of three day county cricket. Should day three of this match be rained off, we may have a throwback.
Of course, the past is a foreign country where things are done differently. Uncovered pitches back then meant that batting was sometimes a lottery, and rain often made a result more rather than less likely. Completion of matches, too, was aided by the ability of teams to bowl 20 overs or so an hour.
Today’s players proceed at a more gentle pace, as demonstrated by Sam Hain who came to the wicket, took a single and then spent a few minutes removing his sweater and summoning the 12th man to take it back to the pavilion.
This may yet prove to be one of those matches where you only know what the pitch is really like when both sides have batted. But so far, it looks to offer a little to both batsmen and bowlers so that the even balance at the end of the day should not be too much of a surprise.