Troughton rescues Warwickshire

Warwickshire 350 Gloucestershire 20-0

The unthinkable happened yesterday. The Championship leaders, Warwickshire, failed to pass 400 in their first innings for the first time in 10 First Division matches. The only time this season that they have looked remotely in trouble in the first innings was against these same opponents in April - the one before the prolific sequence, and their rise to the top of the First Division, had begun.

The unthinkable happened yesterday. The Championship leaders, Warwickshire, failed to pass 400 in their first innings for the first time in 10 First Division matches. The only time this season that they have looked remotely in trouble in the first innings was against these same opponents in April - the one before the prolific sequence, and their rise to the top of the First Division, had begun.

Warwickshire had come into this game needing a further 53 points from their remaining four matches to be mathematically certain of finishing top of the heap and they reduced that target by four points yesterday.

They had also arrived at the County Ground without Ian Bell (on England duty) and Brad Hogg (on Australia duty), two of their most prolific run-makers.

Thankfully Jim Troughton's sense of timing is not confined to his shots. It has been a lean season and a long 15 months for the left-hander, but the 25-year-old scored his first hundred since May 2003. He shared in a crucial stand of 182 for the fifth wicket with Dougie Brown, who had joined Troughton with Warwickshire teetering at 78 for 4, after they had lost their first three wickets inside nine overs.

Troughton and Brown ground it out before lunch, only letting rip after the interval, when the former reached his half-century, followed not long after by the latter, and when their stand passed 100 it broke a long-standing Warwickshire record; it was the 27th century stand of the season in the Championship, passing the mark of 26 set back in the "Year of the Bat" - 1990.

Then the race was on to see who would be first to reach three figures. The accolade went to Troughton. After getting a little bogged down in the edgy eighties he revved himself out of trouble and smacked a ball through the covers for his 19th boundary and his seventh first-class century.

Brown departed soon after that when he played a wild slash and was snapped up, nine runs short of his century, at backward point.

Then Warwickshire rather lost their way again. Tony Frost was caught by the Gloucestershire captain, Chris Taylor, and Troughton departed after tea, caught at leg slip. Two balls later Neil Carter went, then Heath Streak's failed sweep presented Gloucestershire with maximum bowling points.

The last-wicket pair of Naqqash Tahir and Dewald Pretorius somehow scrambled 37 runs between them for a fourth point, although a further 50 runs were well beyond them.

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