Rankin outshines Test stars to leave Lancashire stuck on the back foot

Lancashire 227 Warwickshire 39-1
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The Independent Online

Edgbaston is a functional cricket ground rather than an attractive one and the £32m new pavilion stand is not going to alter that, imposing though it is, rising to four tiers and topped by a media centre that sits 18 metres above pitch level.

First impressions are that it will enhance the English Test circuit, even if the scoreboard will be a problem even for spectators with only borderline myopia. It is due to be finished in July, by which time one hopes that the sightscreen will be more sophisticated than the arrangement of grubby white tarpaulins in use yesterday.

This match offers a first sighting, too, in the 2011 domestic season, of three England players, two of whom were duelling before the day was done in what threatens to be a low-scoring contest. Jimmy Anderson claimed his first wicket of the season with his 16th ball, trapping Will Porterfield leg before for a duck, which exposed Ian Bell to an uncomfortable welcome back he will have been content to survive. Jonathan Trott's turn will come today.

Bell is Warwickshire captain, in the absence of an injured Jim Troughton, for the first time in a Championship match. He began by losing the toss but Warwickshire did not fare badly for that. The smallest of Lancashire's three first-innings totals this season had been 451 but on a slow pitch with some variable bounce it soon became clear that there would be no such prosperity this time.

Those batsmen who did not surrender their wickets offering no stroke were caught either by the wicketkeeper or first slip as Warwickshire consistently hit the right spots. Chris Woakes raised his tally for the season to 20 but he was trumped by Boyd Rankin, the 6ft 7ins Ulsterman, who ended a terrific spell with three wickets in five balls for figures of 5-57 as Lancashire collapsed from 219-5 to 227 all out.

The first of his five was Stephen Moore, who followed a trend in misjudgements against bowling from the pavilion end that began when Karl Brown left a ball from Rikki Clarke that hit his off stump. Steven Croft was leg before to Clarke padding up and Moore went in similar fashion.

Thereafter Luke Procter, with a well measured 46, was joined by Gareth Cross to add 90 for the sixth wicket. But the rebuilding work was demolished when Procter sliced Rankin to second slip and Cross chopped on to Clarke in the following over.

The other bit of significant rebuilding was to the bowlers' take-off areas at the City End, which required extensive work at lunch and tea to bind an unstable surface. The outfield here has been relaid over the winter and the new turf at the edge of the square has not settled, meaning that some bowlers – Woakes in particular – were kicking up debris in their wake. Significantly, Anderson bowled all his eight overs from the other end.