Report: Warwickshire v Yorkshire Specsavers County Championship

Day 4

Warwickshire moved to the top of the embryonic Specsavers County Championship Division One table after their weather-ravaged clash with Yorkshire drifted to a draw at Edgbaston.

The Bears have so far drawn all three games, none of which have even reached the fourth innings due principally to the weather.

There was certainly never a chance of their tussle with the reigning champions yielding a positive result after vast swathes of it were lost to snow, sleet, rain and bad light.

On the final day, ironically the only full day's play, Warwickshire extended their overnight 205 for two to 443 for nine declared, harvesting full batting points, before Yorkshire responded with after tea 73 for two.

It was certainly a forgettable four-days for Yorkshire whose pursuit of their third successive title has begun in staccato fashion with two draws, some worrying top-order fragility and an ankle injury, sustained during this match, to Ryan Sidebottom which will rule him out of next week's game at Nottinghamshire at least.

"We know we are playing 'okay' cricket but know we can be better," said Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale. "I don't think we have hit our straps in the top five with big partnerships and we haven't bowled in partnerships either. There have been period of play when we have been quite sloppy and gone round the park.

"The encouraging thing is the lads recognise that and want to work hard to put it right and while they are doing that you know you are on the right path. We are not playing our best cricket but have still got two solid draws."

Warwickshire captain Ian Bell, meanwhile, was upbeat about the season so far as his team enters a free week before resuming at home to Somerset on May 8.

After watching his team amass a hefty total thanks largely to Varun Chopra (107 from 182 balls with 15 fours), Jonathan Trott (74, 110, ten), Tim Ambrose (61 not out, 106, six) and Rikki Clarke (51, 46 four fours and two sixes) he said: "The challenge this morning was to get 400, which wasn't going to be straightforward against a good attack, but we did it quite comfortably in the end.

"Tim Ambrose and Rikki Clarke batted really well in the middle order and they are important players for us. Them getting runs is a good sign because we have got big runs at the top of the order in the early games but also the engine-room from six down to ten is producing well. If they are batting well as well it just keeps the pressure on the opposition.

"Being top of the table at this stage of the season doesn't really mean anything but the start we have made is very encouraging."

Day 3

Varun Chopra unfurled a century of the highest class as the Specsavers County Championship tussle between Warwickshire and Yorkshire drifts towards a draw at Edgbaston.

Chopra was unbeaten on 101 out of his team's 205 for two, in reply to 379 all out, when rain returned yet again shortly after tea on the third day to wipe out most of the last session.

With 88 overs already lost to the weather in the first two days, what could have been a tremendous match between champions and putative challengers has turned out to be a damp squib. And a very cold one.

Lunch was taken early after sleet swept across the ground. Spectators and fielders alike have shivered and shrunk from the biting wind. Two Yorkshire players wore woolly hats.

One spectator, in Block 12, watched play before lunch in t-shirt and shorts. He has not been since.

All told, it has been a joyless visit to Birmingham for Yorkshire so far and it took another unwelcome twist in the morning session when Ryan Sidebottom jarred his knee and limped off halfway through his sixth over. The injury will be assessed overnight but Yorkshire are likely to need their impressive squad depth when they face Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge next week. They have David Willey to come in, of course, while further up the order Joe Root will also play.

Warwickshire, meanwhile, have a free week after this game and are likely to go into it having played three, drawn three, but with confidence bolstered by early-season runs from their top three batsmen.

Ian Bell has a 174 behind him and Jonathan Trott an unbeaten 219. Today it was Chopra who shone in the April gloom. His 19th first-class century, and first in 20 innings since last May, brimmed with luscious drives and formed the perfect response to his pair in this fixture last season.

After Yorkshire resumed in the morning on 368 for nine, they added just 11 before Sidebottom edged Chris Woakes into the slips to leave Steve Patterson unbeaten with a career-best 63 (76 balls, 11 fours).

Warwickshire soon lost Ian Westwood, bowled by Jack Brooks, but Chopra added 132 in 40 overs with Ian Bell (59, 120 balls, eight fours). Bell edged Adil Rashid to Adam Lyth, one of the woolly-hat-wearers, at slip but Trott, fresh from a double-century at Lord's, settled immediately.

Chopra and Trott added 55 in 15 overs, the latter compiling a fluent 57-ball 38 before another ferocious rainstorm hit Edgbaston.

Day 2

Yorkshire showed the resilience of champions to thwart Warwickshire's advance on a rain and bad light-affected second day of their Specsavers County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.

At 85 for four and 209 for six, Yorkshire were in jeopardy of coming in far below the total they had in mind when they won the toss and batted.

But they recovered to a relatively meaty 368 for nine by the close, thanks heavily to Adil Rashid's 33rd first-class half-century (63 from 104 balls with nine fours) and Steve Patterson's second (62 not out, 74 balls, 111 fours).

That is a position from which Yorkshire will seek to apply pressure to a Bears batting unit to which they have caused much trouble in recent years, not least at Edgbaston where they have won emphatically on their last three championship visits.

After bad weather prevented cricket until 1.30pm, Warwickshire quickly struck two big blows by removing the overnight half-centurions. Jack Leaning (51, 97 balls, seven fours) edged Chris Woakes to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose and Gary Ballance  68 (161 balls, ten fours) nicked Keith Barker behind.

At 209 for six, the door was ajar for the home side but Liam Plunkett counter-attacked vividly, striking Barker for three successive fours in a 30-ball 26. That cameo, in a stand of 43 in 57 balls with Rashid, signalled a swing in momentum.

After Plunkett edged a Rikki Clarke outswinger, Rashid found another punchy partner in Patterson. The pair added 91 in 20 overs before was Rashid was castled by the persevering Woakes.

Barker induced an edge behind from Jack Brooks but Ryan Sidebottom accompanied through to the close.

The pitch looks good for batting, as good as Yorkshire evidently though it was when they elected to bat on it, but they will enjoy the prospect of putting some pressure on a Warwickshire side which they have twice dismissed for less than 100 in the last two seasons.

However with Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott having already shown their class in the championship this season, with scores of 174 and 219 not out respectively, and further time likely to be lost to the weather, it appears that these two sides will still be searching for their first championship win of 2016 after this match.

Day 1

Warwickshire and Yorkshire swapped blows intriguingly on a rain-affected opening day of their Specsavers County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.

Having declined the option of bowling first, Yorkshire participated in a good old-fashioned toss, won it and, after choosing to bat on a firm pitch, ended the day on 177 for four.

They were made to work hard for runs against a Warwickshire side playing its first home match of the season and fancied to pose one of the principal threats to the White Rose's aspirations to winning a third successive title this season.

A Bears attack including the fit-again Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin, who returned to the team in place of Chris Wright and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, reduced the visitors to 85 for four before Gary Ballance (50 not out from 123 balls) and Jack Leaning (50 not out from 90) dug in to add an unbroken 92 in 28 overs.

Yorkshire, having eschewed the choice to bowl, started solidly on the ground on which they have some happy batting history; in 1896 they amassed 887 in Birmingham, their highest ever total in first-class cricket.

Opening pair Adam Lyth and Alex Lees put on 46 but then three wickets fell for ten runs in 40 balls.

Rikki Clarke stuck first in spectacular fashion when he knocked out Lees's off and middle stumps. Lyth then top-edged a pull at Rankin to mid-on where Ian Bell took the catch at the third attempt.

Both openers having departed in quick succession for 19, captain Andrew Gale reached only five before misjudging a swinging, full-length ball from Keith Barker which thundered into his stumps.

Jonny Bairstow, scorer of a superb century in this fixture last season, again looked in excellent nick and reached 20 from 25 balls before being bowled by England team-mate Woakes through an attempted drive.

At 85 for four, Yorkshire were under pressure and what followed was a period of compelling cricket where the scoring-rate was low but the entertainment high. It was intense, competitive, highly-skilled stuff as Ballance and Leaning batted with great diligence against probing seam-bowling led by Woakes and Clarke.

The fifth-wicket pair showed the tenacity and resolve of champions to steer their side away from danger in a match which, although very early in the season, could transpire to be of huge significance to the title equation five months down the line.

Brian Halford

Brian is Warwickshire's Club Journalist and has reported on the Bears since 2000.