There have been a few muttered curses about the scheduling of an England Lions match against Sri Lanka A as the County Championship enters a critical phase but you would imagine that Ashley Giles, the Warwickshire director of cricket (and England selector), has not been joining in.
While Yorkshire, with their relegation worries, have had to do without Jonathan Bairstow and Joe Root, and Nottinghamshire, not yet sure of their safety, are tackling title favourites Durham with a triallist and a debutant on board in the absence of Alex Hales and Samit Patel, Warwickshire's plans for their critical visit to Liverpool have not been inconvenienced.
The player who might have been whisked away is Chris Woakes, an all-rounder with genuine prospects of playing at the highest level, who was making enough progress during the winter that he played – as a replacement for the injured Stuart Broad – in England's Twenty20 and 50-over sides in Australia, memorably taking 6 for 49 in the one-day international in Brisbane and smacking Shaun Tait for six to win the first match in the T20 series.
Since then, however, the 22-year-old has had problems with sore shins, an injury that cost him an appearance in the Lions team at Derby.
He has been in good enough fettle here, however, to have a significant influence on a match that will take Warwickshire ahead of second-placed Lancashire in the table should they win. Having taken three new-ball wickets as Lancashire were restricted to 189 in their first innings on Monday, Woakes top-scored with 60 as Warwickshire took a useful lead of 91 yesterday.
His innings ended tamely when he drove left-arm spinner Gary Keedy straight to cover – as had that of Jim Troughton earlier when he fell in similar fashion for 49 – but the maturity he showed, particularly when the ball was swinging under an overcast sky, gave his side a clear advantage.
Lancashire, meanwhile, were pondering the enigma that is Saj Mahmood, who began by sending Troughton's stumps in all directions, only to be called for the first of 12 no-balls.Reuse content