Warwickshire exposed by Patel

Warwickshire 240 and 205-9 England A 503-9 dec
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The Independent Online
Seldom is an early season match between genuine first-class teams so rich in contrast. Warwickshire, the triple champions of last summer, were outclassed by a side brimming not only with talent but togetherness after their triumphant tour of India.

Ironically, Ray Illingworth, the England chairman, missed the career- best batting performances from Mark Ilott and Min Patel, who also returned 4-3 in five overs to cut through Warwickshire's resistance which was mostly paper thin. They lost six wickets for 22 runs in a 13-over spell and only Dermot Reeve's battling unbeaten 77 and his unbroken last-wicket partnership of 75 with Allan Donald carried the match beyond the extra 10 overs and into today.

Illingworth had arrived, felt unwell, and departed, leaving the new selector, David Graveney, pondering on the change of fortunes since his final visit to the ground as a player last June when Brian Lara made 501 not out against Durham.

This time, Warwickshire looked to be batting on a different pitch from the one where Patel and Ilott plundered 113 from the first 25 overs of the day. They were brought together by pure circumstance, Paul Nixon, the Leicestershire wicketkeeper not reappearing after sustaining a broken finger when struck by Donald the previous evening.

Nixon was replaced by the 19-year-old Tony Frost, Warwickshire's third- choice wicketkeeper. Frost celebrated by dismissing Dougie Brown with a low catch long after Warwickshire's cause looked lost.

Phil Neale starting a two-year appointment as their director of coaching, will be checking the fitness of Nick Knight, their new recruit from Essex, before Sunday's opening Benson and Hedges Cup match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Knight, a member of Neale's England A party which lost only one of 12 matches on the winter tour, missed this Tetley Bitter Shield because of back trouble. Judging by Warwickshire's abject batting, his presence is obligatory.

With no Lara and Knight, Warwickshire had a chasm in their upper order exposed by Patel, who made a few points in his slow left-arm duel with Richard Stemp. Patel was assisted by catching more reminiscent of high summer than a chilling April.

Jason Gallian held Dominic Ostler ungainly scoop to short leg, Mark Ramprakash took Roger Twose of the full blade at leg slip and Dominic Cork dived forward to clutch a two-handed catch at deep backward square leg when Keith Piper top-edged a sweep.

Cork also had other successes, keeping a ball low to punish Graeme Welch's misjudgement in playing back rather than forward. Such indiscretions seemed light years, rather than a few hours, away from the rapid accumulation of Ilott, who made 60 from 93 balls with eight fours and Patel, whose maiden half-century occupied 67 deliveries.

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