Jonathan Trott is entitled to feel rather pleased with himself. Having narrowly missed out on a part in the farrago that is England's performance at Headingley, the Warwickshire batsmen yesterday continued his fine season with a carefully constructed 79 against Somerset at Edgbaston.
Although he was by some distance the second-best English batsman on show – Marcus Trescothick raced to a run-a-ball century in Somerset's second innings to add to the one he scored in the first innings – Trott is clearly first in the queue should the national selectors be on the lookout for new blood, especially if they remember what another South African achieved at The Oval against Australia four years ago.
Trott was out yesterday thanks to a previous generation's import, Andrew Caddick, who joined Somerset having arrived from New Zealand in 1991. This is to be Caddick's last season and while he may have lost a bit of zip – and his hair is more grey than black – he is still in exceptionally good shape. He took two wickets during an unbroken spell in the morning, accounting for Trott when the latter swished at a wide one that left him. Trescothick took the catch at second slip.
But it was Caddick's partner during that session-long spell, Alfonso Thomas, who really impressed. Thomas, who hails from – where else? – South Africa, took three wickets, including Tony Frost caught behind for 94 with one that left him off the pitch. Tim Ambrose, the Warwickshire wicketkeeper, was another victim, caught at first slip by Justin Langer.
It was a slow day at Edgbaston with very little prospect of victory for either side. There was entertainment for those who enjoy seeing the umpire in a bit of strife: first Mark Benson jigged and weaved to avoid a wasp before Neil Mallender copped a solidly-hit straight drive from Ant Botha on the ankle. Botha yelped in frustration, Mallender remained stoically silent.
Warwickshire, who have signed the Indian seamer Sree Santh until the end of the season, were dismissed shortly after lunch for 261, a disappointing total given their overnight score of 156 for 3. Somerset, who would have been hoping to put pressure on Durham at the top of the First Division with victory here, moved to 156 for 4 by the close, the highlight of which was Trescothick taking 14 off one over of slow left-arm from Botha. Two balls were smashed high over the bowler's head and plugged in the ground just short of the boundary before the Somerset opener decided he had had enough and hit the next one for six.
The happiest side in Division One yesterday would have been Durham, who did not play but watched rivals fail to make up ground as Somerset and Nottinghamshire, who drew with Sussex at Horsham, faltered. Lancashire, however, still have one day to go in their match against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl and could force victory.
Nottinghamshire looked possible winners when they reduced Sussex to 140 for 4, still more than 80 runs behind, but an unbroken partnership of 109 between Carl Hopkinson and Luke Wright steadied the South Coast side and they reached the close on 249 for 4. Their position in the top flight still looks somewhat perilous, perched as they are just above the relegation zone.
Lancashire have no relegation worries – for now, at least – but they need to beat Hampshire to retain a say in the destination of the title. They were grateful to VVS Laxman whose century was the centre point of a strong batting display. Laxman ended the day on 135 not out, Mark Chilton having shared in a partnership of 216 for the fourth wicket with the Indian as he made his way to 81 before being dismissed by David Griffiths. Tom Smith fell just short of his century, out for 95, also to Griffiths, as Lancashire ended on 487 for 4. John Crawley, Hampshire's former England batsman, used this match against the county where he made his name to announce his retirement at the end of the season.
In the Second Division, Surrey are 223 runs ahead of Derbyshire with seven first-innings wickets remaining at Whitgift School at can push for victory today. Andre Nel took four wickets as the visitors subsided from 169 for 2 overnight to 334 all out.
Glamorgan won their first Championship match of the season, beating Leicestershire by an innings and 72 runs at Colwyn Bay as the visitors lost their last five wickets for three runs in 3.5 overs. The slow bowlers did the trick, left-armer Dean Cosker taking 3 for 12 while Robert Croft took 3 for 30. Gloucestershire made 39 without loss to beat Essex, after the New Zealander James Franklin took 3 for 23 as Essex were bowled out for 236.