Facing an Australian fast bowler he knows only too well, Jonathan Trott could not have asked for a much stiffer examination of his readiness for a return to competitive first-class cricket. It was not Mitchell Johnson, the principal demon in his Ashes nightmare; but at Edgbaston on Monday Nottinghamshire’s Peter Siddle was arguably the next best thing, if that is the right way to put it.
In one respect, the troubled England batsman came through it encouragingly well. Siddle, as you would expect, peppered Trott with short balls, trying to expose any weaknesses, technical or temperamental, that might prove his undoing.
Coming in first wicket down in the seventh over, for his first innings in a first-class match since April, Trott ducked his first two bouncers but was unsettled by the third, which he fended without control, fortunate that Notts had neglected to post a short leg. Off the mark with a single pushed into the off-side, he greeted the next short delivery with a fine shot, pulled for four with impressive authority.
Two fours in Siddle’s next over, albeit one a slightly streaky hook shot to fine leg, actually prompted Siddle’s withdrawal, at which point Trott must have felt that one battle had been won.
So it would have been doubly disappointing that Andre Adams found him out in another way, Trott stepping across the stumps, his balance wrong, to be out leg before as the wily veteran seamer skidded the ball through.
Siddle himself thought there were grounds for optimism. “It’s a battle on the field and of course you are looking to test him, as you would any batsman who is struggling with something,” he said. “But he is a good bloke and you want to see him getting back to his best.”
From Warwickshire’s point of view, the real story of the day came later, as Chris Woakes made 91 led an unlikely recovery from 125 for 5 to puncture Nottinghamshire’s hopes of forcing the follow-on.
Elsewhere, bottom-of-the-table Northamptonshire face an uphill struggle after Middlesex declared on 488 for 9, Dawid Malan scoring his first Championship century for two years with 154 not out.
At Taunton, veteran Marcus Trescothick made his third hundred of the season as Somerset reached 193 for 2 in reply to Lancashire’s 266.