NEIGHBOURS they may be but of the kind where scoring points is very much the name of the game. In which case Worcestershire, without actually denying visitors access across their New Road driveway, were reasonably content with events here, the Championship leaders three adrift on the
bonus front after being bowled out for their second-lowest total of the season.
This may sound like clutching at straws but with a shade above 62 overs lost on day one, this match is only slowly taking shape. And slow is the operative word, because by tea-time yesterday neither contestant appeared too concerned at a scoring rate hovering around two runs an over.
But then that is four-day cricket for you, the push and the prod so often the norm in the early stages. Take out someone like Brian Lara, which Phil Newport did to the delight of his Worcestershire team-mates with the battle just 28 overs old, and the cupboard began to look a trifle bare on a slowish wicket. All credit then to Stuart Lampitt, a bowler appearing the sharpest of all and one enjoying a fair bit of movement in muggy conditions. Then again, Lampitt has proved that he is no mug with the ball this summer while also celebrating a maiden century in the Championship against Middlesex early in June.
By coincidence, it was at Lord's, too, where Warwickshire had been dismissed for a paltry 211 the previous month, although they escaped with a draw in a match that could have gone either way. Since then, they have been held to a draw once and arrived from across the road with six successive victories behind them in the premier competition.
Psychologically speaking, Worcestershire, third from bottom before the start and beaten out of sight in last month's Benson and Hedges Cup final, were some way off the pace in keeping up with the Joneses. Newport struck a big blow, however, and Lampitt followed up in the most satisfying fashion. Three down overnight, Warwickshire proceeded to lose their last seven wickets in 44 overs for the addition of 87 runs. Not very impressive, whereas Lampitt was. Roger Twose's scalp already displayed, the first innings collection was completed with the wickets of Paul Smith, Graeme Welch and Dermot Reeve.
Reeve, the opposing captain, has had a lean season in a batting sense through injury and sickness, 33 here representing his highest score in this campaign in which he has scored no more than 116 runs. He felt a little sicker, too, as Lampitt completed a 4 for 32 return and even more so when Philip Weston reached a half-century.
The left-hander was in the 40s when Twose was introduced to the attack, surviving chances at fine leg and slip off the first and last balls of the over. Tim Curtis also made a 50, nifty in these circumstances of intense local rivalry.