It is all very well being sent to the shires to make some runs, but when the month you have been given to rebuild your claim to an England place is April you might argue that the playing field is not exactly level.
So it may seem to Samit Patel if his quest to impress before the opening Test against West Indies on 17 May has to be pursued in conditions similar to those encountered by Durham and Nottinghamshire at Chester-le-Street.
After Nottinghamshire's dismissal for 160 on Thursday, to which Patel's contribution was 13, Durham fared even worse yesterday when they slumped to 129 all out, the wickets shared between three members of the visitors' five-strong seam attack, led by Ben Phillips with four for 33.
It appeared that Nottinghamshire had made the right choice in leaving out spinner Graeme Wright and that Durham had erred by picking Scott Borthwick as well as Ian Blackwell.
But after Alex Hales' rapid half-century had given his side a clear advantage, left-arm spinner Blackwell struck twice in seven overs, conceding only five runs and finding sharp turn. Hales skied a catch to cover and the unfortunate Patel fell for five, edging to first slip. However, Michael Lumb's first century for his new county has put Nottinghamshire in a strong position.
Bowlers continued to dominate at Edgbaston – and not only with ball in hand. Warwickshire's first-innings lead of 96 over Somerset owed much to a 47-run last-wicket partnership between seamers Chris Wright and Keith Barker, who top-scored with 46. The pair had taken six Somerset wickets between them on the opening day.
Middlesex's Dawid Malan held Middlesex together superbly at the Oval, where the visitors recovered from 129 for seven to 256 all out. Malan batted for almost five hours but tickled a catch to the wicketkeeper on 88 after protecting last man Corey Collymore for almost an hour. Davies and Jacques Rudolph produced an opening stand of 85 but Surrey thereafter laboured over their reply, slipping to 153 for five.