Watchful Westwood bats Bears into strong position

Warwickshire 235-3 v Nottinghamshire

Click to follow
The Independent Online

There was precious little sunshine and even less hay being made. But while Warwickshire supporters might have wished for something a little more stirring – in terms of runs per shiver – to take their minds off a bone-chilling wind, this was a day when the Bears dug their claws in.

County Championship titles cannot be won in the penultimate round of matches – well, not this year, anyway. But they can be all but tossed away with one careless performance and, in Ian Westwood, Warwickshire had just the man to make sure nothing silly followed his side's decision to bat first against Nottinghamshire on a green-tinged though true pitch.

Westwood, a compact opener, was averaging a modest 27 this season before turning yesterday's solid start into a second century of the campaign. Not until late in the day, when spinner Graeme White entered the fray, did the left-handed batsman throw even a little caution to the wind but still there was no dislodging him and he finished undefeated on 144 (from 258 balls, with 20 fours) when bad light halted play 13 overs early.

A score of 235 for three from 83 overs means that Warwickshire are destined, surely, to fall short of maximum batting points (they need a further 165 runs from 27 overs to gather a full haul of five), but putting themselves into a position from which to press for victory – and overtake leaders Durham before next week's final round of games – is more important.

Mind you, on the evidence of yesterday, beating these opponents will be anything but straightforward.

Notts, the outgoing champions, are the only team in the First Division with no real interest in either the top or the bottom of the table. But they have given themselves the target of fourth place (and winning £35,000 in the process) and bowled with real purpose.

Indeed, Westwood and Shiv Chanderpaul added just 19 runs in 16 overs for the third wicket, such was the accuracy of Andre Adams, Darren Pattinson and Luke Fletcher. Not even Chanderpaul's powers of concentration could cope with that level of economy and he went after one from Pattinson that left him late to edge a catch behind.

Westwood, though, waited and waited for the rare bad ball. There were not many but he made good use of most of them and will be eager to fight on today.