Pitch threat hangs over Warwickshire

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Warwickshire 462 Worcestershire 177 and 16-1

Warwickshire may be well on their way to an 11th victory in defence of the Championship, but a dramatic collapse yesterday by Worcestershire did nothing to score points with the Test and County Cricket Board following a warning over the state of wickets being prepared here.

While Worcestershire followed on 285 in arrears after losing their last eight wickets for 31, what prompted sharp criticism from Lord's was how others have fared on the ground this season. England lost by an innings here to the West Indies last month and TCCB's own XI went down by nine wickets to young Australia just last week.

Yesterday's events apart, apparently enough is enough and the groundsman Steve Rouse's pitches will now be under the microscope for the next couple of seasons. Tim Lamb, the TCCB's cricket secretary, said: "The matter had been thoroughly investigated. We have already expressed our concern to Warwickshire."

The ultimate sanction would be for this ground to lose its Test match status, but Lamb said: "The full Board would only get involved with a Test match ground in an extreme situation and we are nowhere near that situation yet."

None of this was of any consolation to Worcestershire, who eventually saw the back of Roger Twose 11 overs into yesterday's first session but not before the left-hander had made 191 to become the first Warwickshire batsman to pass a thousand runs.

Indeed Warwickshire finished only eight short of their highest total here this summer and while Allan Donald softened up the opposition with 3 for 5 in 14 deliveries it was the slow left arm of Ashley Giles that did the damage, his 5 for 23 a career best.

All this as Tim Curtis, the Worcestershire captain who had featured in a century partnership for the third wicket with Tom Moody, carried his bat for 75. And Curtis stood firm to the close second time around. Meanwhile, Phil Weston's dismissal moved Warwickshire a step nearer to victory at the end of a day during which 15 wickets fell, though on this occasion the pitch could not be considered the main culprit.