Carter defies devils in pitch

Worcestershire 379 & 70-2 Warwickshire 405

Judging the merits of the batting surface here is one of the trickier assignments David Hughes has faced in his role as ECB pitch inspector. Its behaviour is erratic, the variety of bounce threatening batsmen's toes, hands and ribs in equal measure, but after Graeme Hick tamed it so imperiously on Tuesday, yesterday produced more runs than any day this season, in any first-class match.

Judging the merits of the batting surface here is one of the trickier assignments David Hughes has faced in his role as ECB pitch inspector. Its behaviour is erratic, the variety of bounce threatening batsmen's toes, hands and ribs in equal measure, but after Graeme Hick tamed it so imperiously on Tuesday, yesterday produced more runs than any day this season, in any first-class match.

True, there was a lot of awful bowling but also extraordinary batting, led by Neil Carter's exhilarating 95 off 80 balls, as Warwickshire recovered from a perilous 50 for 4 to reach 405 all out, claiming maximum batting points and an unlikely lead.

So Hughes, who was called in overnight by umpires Roy Palmer and John Hampshire, faced a dilemma. If the first two days yield 854 runs, how can you condemn the pitch? Yesterday saw 481 scored, 336 in boundaries, with six overs chalked off for bad light. It left Hughes enough in two minds to take another look today before deciding whether a pitch panel should be convened. "It is an interesting one," he said. "But I need to see how the game progresses and how the ball reacts." Warwickshire could be docked up to 15 points, although such a penalty is unlikely.

Carter's whirlwind would almost certainly have brought him the fastest hundred of the Championship season had his attempt at a seventh six not resulted in a well-judged catch by Gareth Batty at deep backward square. There was breathtaking stuff as well from Dougie Brown and Jim Troughton.

But Worcestershire will feel they let their opponents off the hook. In a disastrous afternoon they conceded 245 in 44 overs, handing over the initiative. By the close, with Hick gone for 29 (170 short of his 1,000 runs before 1 June), Worcestershire led by 44.

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