Bell and Powell make mockery of Batty choice

Warwickshire 390-5 v Surrey
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The Independent Online

Whatever it was that influenced Jon Batty's decision not to bat first in this County Championship First Division match yesterday was hammered out of sight and all around the Woodbridge Road ground here by Warwickshire.

True, heavy cloud had brooded over the toss, but by the close blue skies prevailed, although Surrey were still under a cloud of their own as they watched the Division leaders, Warwickshire, in the guise of Ian Bell and Michael Powell, pile up the runs.

The relatively inexperienced Surrey attack looked devoid of penetration in the absence of Martin Bicknell, who surely would have exploited the early conditions more tellingly.

As it was Bicknell, whose home ground this is, is missing for three weeks with a groin injury, Alex Tudor has not regained match fitness after battling with a back problem, while Rikki Clarke is playing solely as a batsman because of a back strain. So they were up against it from the start, which was delayed by 15 minutes as Warwickshire had been held up in traffic due to roadworks and the Farnborough Air Show.

Bell and Powell gave a more down-to-earth display of batsmanship as they monopolised the afternoon with a 214-run partnership. Bell's century was all the more painful for Surrey as they missed a chance when he was on 25. The edge off an Azhar Mahmood delivery went to Alistair Brown at slip who dropped the easy offering, bringing echoes of the final day against Gloucestershire last month when he grounded three chances.

Bell batted on... and on, his five-hour innings was his third Championship hundred of the summer and when he fell, caught trying to cut Nayan Doshi's left-arm spin, Warwickshire were on their way to full batting points. In fact, they have failed to reach 400 in the first innings just once this season - against Surrey at Edgbaston, when they followed on and won.

Powell also reached three figures, his second century in successive innings and, if his final innings of last season is taken into account, it was his third ton in four Championship innings. Warwickshire are the last side to have beaten Surrey on this ground and they look set to repeat the feat 10 years on.