As the Championship season reaches the halfway point, Warwickshire’s mission, which they share with Middlesex, is to disprove the notion that the title is already a two-horse race between the sides currently battling it out at Chester-le-Street.
On paper, they ought to be contenders. They have the most consistently effective spin bowler in the competition in Jeetan Patel and a pace attack to rival those of Yorkshire and Durham, yet all is not well. Chris Woakes remains sidelined with a knee injury and now Keith Barker, the left-armer, is out for at least the next couple of weeks with a calf injury. Chris Wright, meanwhile, struggles to recapture the form he enjoyed alongside Barker when the two of them effectively bowled Warwickshire to the title in 2012.
For this match, with a forecast for hot weather by Tuesday, they have prepared a pitch for spin, or rather not prepared, in as much as it is the same surface used for the last two Twenty20 fixtures here. They have three spinners in their side, as do Sussex.
So far, though, not so good. The ball has turned a little but not enough to test the Sussex batsmen unduly. Between them, Patel, Josh Poysden and Ateeq Javid bowled 61 overs on the opening day and took one wicket. Varun Chopra, the Warwickshire captain, persevered with his strategy, even delaying the new ball by 10 overs, but to no avail.
At least it provided an opportunity for a long look at a leg-spinner, the 24-year-old Poysden, making his Championship debut. As it happens, Poysden hails from Sussex, where he began his career in the company up to Second XI level of several members of this Sussex team. Until he began to tire, he bowled with consistently good control and picked up a good wicket when he tossed one up to tempt the drive from Matt Machan; Chris Wright took an acrobatic catch at mid-off.
The day belonged otherwise to Sussex, to Luke Wells, who made 68 before he top-edged an attempted pull against Wright, and ultimately to Chris Nash, who completed his first century of the season, a well paced, mostly diligent innings that has so far spanned 186 balls. He and Luke Wright have added 117 for the fourth wicket.Reuse content