Westwood finds form to punish Somerset

Somerset 262 Warwickshire 398-7
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ian Westwood fulfilled a lifetime ambition when he was made Warwickshire's captain in 2009 but it has been a pinnacle with a steep descent for the Birmingham-born batsman.

His story is not unusual. The extra demands had a negative effect on his own form, particularly as Warwickshire struggled to avoid relegation last season. His side perked up and reached the final of the CB40, but Westwood was so out of touch he voluntarily gave up his place. In his absence, Ian Bell led the team, and lifted the trophy.

Westwood resigned during the winter but it did not mean an instant fix. His first seven Championship innings this season yielded a paltry 106 runs and he was left out when Bell and Jonathan Trott were available.

Yet somehow the clouds lifted yesterday. His confidence bolstered by a double hundred made in the Second XI – against a strong Nottinghamshire bowling attack – he cut and pulled well, batting with a fluency not seen for some time, making chanceless progress to his first Championship hundred in two years.

He and Varun Chopra, who had reached 86 on Monday evening, frustrated the Somerset attack for the whole of the morning session and a little beyond in posting a partnership of 202, the biggest for Warwickshire's first wicket since Mark Wagh and Michael Powell scored 230 at Chelmsford in 2000 and the county's best of all time against Somerset, which had stood at 195 since 1949.

Chopra fell when he played across a straight one, Westwood after going down the pitch and missing a ball from Murali Kartik, the left-arm spinner, who found some turn but could have done with a livelier surface for his first first-class match since January.

Westwood's first error enabled Craig Kieswetter to pull off a stumping but it was a mixed day for the wicketkeeper given the nod over Matt Prior in England's one-day squads. He put down a catch off Kartik that would have sent Will Porterfield back to the pavilion without scoring, a costly mistake given that the Irishman went on to score 72 before misjudging a ball from left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby, whose subsequent dismissal of Tim Ambrose was his 800th first-class wicket.

Warwickshire lead by 136 but should this match go into a fourth day it will have new players in each team because Kieswetter and Chris Woakes are required to practise for England's Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka.