Wagh revels in his return to old patch

Warwickshire 313 Notttinghamshire 373-9
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The Independent Online

Mark Wagh, who had 10 seasons as a Warwickshire player before moving across the Midlands in 2007, demonstrated his lingering fondness for Edgbaston by marking his third return visit with a second century on his old patch here yesterday as Nottinghamshire seized a surprise first-innings lead. The tall right-hander, always an elegant striker of the ball, was the mainstay of what may prove to be an important recovery for his county, who looked to be heading for trouble when they slumped to 131 for 5.

Although Alex Hales, an opening batsmen with an adventurous nature, had raced to a run-a-ball half-century, two good spells at the pavilion end by the whippy left-armer Neil Carter, angling the ball dangerously across the right-handers, and the tall Boyd Rankin, generating a respectable pace, made batting a difficult business.

Carter supplemented Tuesday's heroics with the bat by bowling Patel off an inside edge for one, then had both Hales and David Hussey caught in the slip cordon. Rankin accounted for Steven Mullaney, who began impressively before he was caught behind off an under-edged pull, and Ally Brown, who was beaten for pace.

But Wagh, whose pursuit of a law degree alongside his cricket suggests an above-average ability to focus, never offered a chance. It was an innings built on sturdy foundations. His first half-century took him only 11 minutes short of four hours. But once he had Chris Read, Nottinghamshire's redoubtable captain, for company, he opened his shoulders.

Read, who has averaged a formidable 55.27 with the bat in his three seasons as captain at Trent Bridge, actually overtook Wagh to be first to 50, despite giving his partner a 36-over start. His half-century came off 80 balls (compared with Wagh's 157) and he looked well set for his eighth century in the leadership role before Carter, although weary by now, produced another characteristic delivery for which Read had to reach to drive and edged to second slip.

Wagh's second 50 was a sprint compared with the first, coming in only 59 balls. After driving Carter back down the ground to reach 99, he completed his hundred by running two off Ant Botha's misfield at extra cover, earning generous applause from the home crowd. His partnership with Read hauled Nottinghamshire back into the match but Warwickshire will feel they should have done better. From 287 for 6, Nottinghamshire slipped to 298 for 8 after the England duo Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad both fell to loose shots.

Yet Warwickshire, with the field pushed back, let them off the hook as Andre Adams plundered 37 off 26 balls, after which Ryan Sidebottom struck the boundary that claimed Nottinghamshire's fourth batting point, then guarded one end as Wagh advanced to 127 and stretched the lead to 60.

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