Honours even after a shortened first day at Edgbaston
With Northants 20 points adrift at the bottom of the Division One Championship and Warwickshire stuck in mid-table there was not too much at stake when the two teams met at Edgbaston today. Add in a delayed start and a further rain interruption and this looked like becoming a day for the hardened fan rather than the casual watcher.
As it happened, there was much good cricket played and by the end of a day reduced to 73 overs, the match was interestingly poised with Northants at 200-5.
When there was cloud cover and humidity early on, Chris Rushworth and Olly Hannon-Dalby exploited the conditions almost too well, regularly beating the bat without finding the edge. They claimed a wicket apiece but could have had several more. Hassan Azad played a loose shot to be well caught at backward point by Craig Miles off Rushworth. Then Luke Procter, who has often been a thorn in Warwickshire’s side, edged Hannon-Dalby and was brilliantly caught in the slips by Sam Hain.
After that, we enjoyed a stand between Emilio Gay and Northants debutant Karun Nair that began with sturdy defence, blossomed into something close to dominance and then descended into stagnation..
The left handed Gay may never be much more than a journeyman county cricketer but has a pretty good defence and a pleasing range of shots. Nair has the slightly bizarre record of having scored a triple century for India but only managing 71 runs in his other six Test innings. Playing his first first class match for over a year, he understandably took time to get going but showed a well organised defence and paced his innings well.
It took from 11.30 to 5.30 , with breaks for lunch, rain and tea, for Warwickshire to end the stand. The pair had added 147 in 46 overs when Hannon-Dalby had Gay caught behind for 77 made off 146 balls with nine fours.
Rob Keogh’s stay could have lasted just three balls but Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes spilt a regulation chance at third slip off Hannon-Dalby. It was a brief reprieve because he played on to the same bowler for nine.
Nair became becalmed in the latter stages of his innings so it was no surprise when he attempted an ambitious uppercut and edged to give Barnard his first wicket. His 78 was made off 177 balls with ten fours and a six.
Northants had lost three wickets for 11 runs and it was left to Saif Zaib and Lewis McManus to bat out the day, which they did to leave Northants 200 -5 at the close.
Not for the first time, Hannon-Dalby was the pick of the Warwickshire bowlers. Rushworth was not quite at his immaculate best and the other seamers – a late spell by Ed Barnard apart – were much less consistent in line and length than the lofty Yorkshireman.
The match is well poised and the hope must be that the slightly dodgy weather forecast for the next three days does not prevent a definite result.