County Championship: Ian Bell shrugs off chances to score second century of the season

Close, day one: Warwickshire 263, Nottinghamshire 43-6

Trent Bridge

Not for the first time, Warwickshire were indebted to Ian Bell for coming up with a substantial innings in difficult conditions, although on this occasion they might concede also that they owe Nottinghamshire, too, for some fairly indifferent batting in reply on a pitch that was not straightforward but which did not explain a closing score of 43 for 6.

Phil Jaques, who twice could not quite get his hands under the ball at mid-wicket when Bell was still fine-tuning his timing early in the innings, might have put those moments behind him more quickly had he managed a few runs of his own when he had the chance to bat later. Alas, he did not.

In that respect, he was not alone among the Nottinghamshire top-order. After sliding to 17 for four as Chris Wright and Keith Barker bent their backs with the new ball on a pitch offering encouragement to the bowlers all day, they finished 220 runs behind with only four wickets in hand. Bell made 122, his second century of the new season and his fifth at Trent Bridge, the scene of the first of his three Ashes hundreds last summer. No England batsman currently walks to the crease with such expectation in tow.

In terms of fluency, this was not quite so impressive as his 189 not out against Sussex two weeks ago. He had the benefit, too, of a short boundary on the Bridgford Road side, where he scored 75 per cent of his runs, including both of his sixes and 16 of his 18 fours.

None the less, of the rest of the Warwickshire batsmen, only William Porterfield, with a fluent 56, made more than 27, which adds some context.

Nottinghamshire’s expectations are with Peter Siddle, who took eight wickets for Australia on this ground last summer but who has yet to hit his straps in his first Championship season. After 29 wicketless overs on debut at Lord’s last week, he managed one for 49 from 16 on Sunday.  Just as well that gangling Andy Carter, making up the numbers with Andre Adams still injured, chose the occasion to deliver the second five-wicket haul of his career and his first for Nottinghamshire.

County round-up

Bowler of the Day

Steven Finn’s four wickets at Lord’s will attract more attention but Angus Fraser, the Middlesex director of cricket and now an England selector, will have good news too of James Harris, the England Lions quick whose signing was regarded as a coup when he left Glamorgan the winter before last. A series of niggling injuries turned his first season at Lord’s into an anticlimax but now fit again he is expected to regain lost ground and his three wickets against Yorkshire on Sunday included that of the in-form Gary Ballance.

England watch

Joe Root’s return to competitive senior cricket, seven weeks after suffering a broken thumb with England in the Caribbean, lasted just five deliveries. Batting at No 4 for Yorkshire at Lord’s, having been named as captain in place of Andrew Gale, Root was trapped leg before by his England team-mate Finn, whose rehabilitation has brought him 18 wickets in three matches so far.

Gale is missing after following through on his threat to leave himself out to accommodate Root. Of Yorkshire’s top order, only he had failed to make runs in the opening two games.  This time, Adam Lyth, Kane Williamson and Ballance made starts they could not build on and all were outscored by Liam Plunkett, a fast bowler with two first-class hundreds to his name, who made his third half-century for Yorkshire.

Extras

They had started their season with a win, but the author of the match report on the Wirral Cricket Club website last week still felt it wise to finish with the gentle reminder: “We will have tougher tests to come.” Wise words, although possibly not so prescient as to foresee what happened when Wirral went to Haslington for the second of their Cheshire League Division Three fixtures for 2014 on Saturday.

Replying to Haslington’s 108, Wirral were bowled out for three. Only their No 11 Connor Hobson, who finished one not out, troubled the scorers. The other two runs came in leg byes.  The bowling figures: Ben Istead 5-4-1-6, Tom Gledhill 4.2-4-0-4. It is not a world record, however. In 1913, the Somerset club Langport were dismissed for nought against Glastonbury.

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