Warwickshire on the warpath

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The Independent Online

reports from Edgbaston

Warwickshire 278 Gloucestershire 54-4

This is another of Steve Rouse's Mohicans, emerald green down the middle, sandy brown and shaved at the side. If Gloucestershire, who were bowling, knew not what to make of the pitch, much the same could be said for the Bears.

The priority, for the champions, was to make up for the first day lost to drizzle. One of the reasons why Warwickshire are the most successful team is that whether batting, bowling or fielding, they get on with it. There is no time for introspection or self-doubt.

So despite early overs during which Roger Twose saw a ball from Javagal Srinath whistle past his nose, from a length, in the seventh over, only to be bowled by one that was no more than ankle high, in the next, the scoring rate rarely flagged.

The price to be paid was in the frequent fall of wickets and a cracked little finger of the left hand for the Scottish all-rounder, Dougie Brown. Last night he was doubtful for Saturday's NatWest final.

Gloucestershire fielded all day as if a bowler short, which they were, Mike Smith having a strained side, but their newcomer, Jon Lewis, a 19- year-old right armer from Aylesbury, formerly with Northamptonshire, made a pleasing first-class debut, 4 for 64, especially as he was probably over-bowled.

Fortunately the pitch became merely untrustworthy once the first shine and hardness had gone from the ball and the bright drying sunshine was replaced by thickening cloud. Wasim Khan, a lithe left-hander, scored an adventurous 68 in two hours, a foundation the Warwickshire middle was able to build upon.

Brown had looked capable of a useful score when he was dropped, off Mark Alleyne, at mid-on. Alleyne dug in the next ball to hit Brown on the hand and thereafter Warwickshire lost their momentum.

That they soon regained once Gloucestershire were batting. Nine cautious overs ended when Matt Windows was well caught behind; Keith Piper bettered that catch with his next, to remove Tony Wright, while Tim Hancock was the victim of a ball that ambushed him in the gloaming. Alleyne was dismissed by a ball that, ominously for Gloucestershire, turned quickly.