Lancashire's seam-bowling options are limited by injuries but there was a suspicion last night that Jimmy Anderson alone – perhaps with a little help from Glen Chapple – might be all they need to see off Warwickshire on an increasingly difficult surface.
Pitch inspector Chris Broad was not perturbed by what he saw on Wednesday but 13 wickets fell yesterday regardless of the catches Warwickshire dropped, after which it emerged that the strip in use is not the one originally prepared, which was deemed too dry. Instead, the batsmen have had to contend with a surface that started soft and has become indented, resulting in hazardously variable bounce.
Added to the problems with loose turf in the bowlers' take-off areas – the consequence of an outfield relaid up to the line of the stumps – it has been a match of headaches for the groundstaff, too.
Warwickshire, 39 for 1 overnight, slipped to 172 all out. Lancashire are missing Saj Mahmood, Farveez Maharoof, Tom Smith and Oliver Newby with Kyle Hogg also unavailable, yet Anderson is back and in rhythm straight away, getting Tim Ambrose leg before with one that kept low and nipping one back to bowl Boyd Rankin for figures of 3 for 57. Jonathan Trott scratched around for 34 minutes before tentatively edging Chapple to second slip; Ian Bell looked more comfortable but then nibbled at a ball from left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan that turned; Mohammad Yousuf was bowled off an inside edge by 22-year-old Luke Procter, a brisk medium-pacer, whose 3 for 33 is his best analysis so far.
Lancashire lost their first three wickets for 27 but Steven Croft's 53 helped them to a lead of 173 overnight, although he should have been caught on 10 (Rankin at mid-on off Chris Woakes) and 31 (Trott at first slip off Rankin). Trott had also dropped Mark Chilton on 18, also off Rankin.