Reeve's grim tale

Warwicks 350-8 dec & 34-0 Nottinghamshire 212-4 dec
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The news that Dermot Reeve will have an operation on his injured hip and will miss the rest of the season cast a cloud over Edgbaston yesterday, almost as dark and gloomy as those hovering in the skies overhead for most of the day.

After the individual contributions of Brian Lara and Allan Donald, Reeve's imaginative captaincy has been chiefly responsible for Warwickshire's unprecedented success over the last two years. However, there was talk during the winter of not reappointing the controversial 33-year-old all rounder as captain for this, his benefit season, and now there must be some doubt over his long-term future.

Warwickshire's quest to become the first county to win the Championship three years running since Yorkshire's last title in 1968 has so far been anything but a picnic for the Bears. They have already lost more four- day games this summer than in the previous two seasons put together, and their injury problems, quite apart from Reeve, have been mounting.

But in spite of all this Warwickshire are by no means out of the race yet, and yesterday morning they pressed on to take maximum batting points, thanks to a robust half-century by Neil Smith.

With the equivalent of more than a day's play lost to rain during Thursday and Friday, the champions needed to make early inroads into Nottinghamshire's batting and they were given the perfect start when Shaun Pollock had Paul Pollard caught behind down the leg-side with the first ball of the innings.

Suitably pumped up, Pollock found the edge of Tim Robinson's bat in his next over to reduce the visitors to five for two. After lunch and a 45- minute interruption for rain, Graeme Archer, who with Ashley Metcalfe had begun to steer Nottinghamshire into calmer waters, was struck a painful blow on the hand by a delivery from Dougie Brown that rose sharply off a length and he retired on 35.

Paul Johnson replaced him but did not last long, dragging the first ball of Pollock's second spell on to his stumps. That brought in Chris Cairns who, with Metcalfe, produced the best batting of the day. They put on 140 during a brief spell of late afternoon sunshine before Metcalfe holed out to long-on for 91, prompting a bold, if perhaps generous, declaration by Johnson, 138 behind.

In the eight overs that remained Warwickshire extended their lead to 172, with Andy Moles, captain in the absence of Reeve, and Tim Munton and Nick Knight resuming their opening partnership for only the second Championship match of an injury-ravaged summer. Thanks to Johnson, this match could yet have a positive finish on tomorrow's final day.