This ground transforms between a Test match and a Championship fixture, the raucously lubricated crowds giving way to row upon row of empty seats, uniformly drab in their washed-out green. The spectator who allegedly abused the Australian captain here last week would have found it much more difficult to slip away unnoticed yesterday, although some Birmingham folk clearly do not mind being the centre of attention.
Hence the umpires, Neil Mallender and Mark Benson, found themselves harangued by an unashamedly conspicuous critic when they wandered back out into the middle following the first of yesterday's rain stoppages. Their apparent lack of urgency was in stark contrast to the mood of the ground staff, who pointedly began revving up their hover-cover every time there was a hint of drizzle.
It was not surprising, then, that supporters deprived of any cricket on Wednesday perceived an unwillingness to play. What they had not taken into account, perhaps, is that groundsman Steve Rouse, after working through almost every night during the Test, is in no mood to give up his square to the elements.
Presumably, the crowd just wanted to see more of Marcus Trescothick, although this was not a sentiment shared by Warwickshire's players, who wanted to see only the back of the former England opener as he drove unwaveringly towards his 36th first-class hundred. It was typical stand-and-deliver from the 33-year-old, culminating in a pulled six off Neil Carter. In nine of his 16 first-class innings this season he has hit 95 or above, five times going on to make 104 or more.
Given that only one team batting first on Edgbaston's benign pitches this season has failed to make 400, he was almost guaranteed to prosper yesterday, which made it all the more baffling that Ian Westwood, the Warwickshire captain, chose to put Somerset in.
Trescothick survived a straightforward chance to first slip off Carter on 87, when Tony Frost, the offending fielder, compounded his error by giving away four overthrows when he shied at the non-striker's stumps.
*Mark Butcher, who played 71 Tests and amassed almost 18,000 first-class runs in a 17-year career spent entirely with Surrey, has announced his retirement after conceding defeat to a long-standing knee injury.Reuse content