Warwickshire, 243 and 123-2, require another 136 runs to beat Somerset, 147 and 354.
One Warwickshire member proclaimed during the lunch interval today that Jim Troughton dropped catches were “collector’s items.” Jos Buttler soon revealed himself to be an avid hoarder. Troughton, having inexplicably shelled a chance that would have been snapped up by Kevin Pietersen circa Ashes 2005 in a straitjacket at mid-off with Buttler fresh to the crease, could only watch on in horror as the Somerset youngster combined with unbeaten overnight stalwart Nick Compton to build a partnership worth 167 runs.
It would perhaps be unfair to brand the Compton Buttler axis a case of beauty and the beast, but the contrast in both timing and power was evident between the two as Compton, resuming on 61, re-assumed the familiar barnacle-like existence so familiar to Warwickshire supporters that sat (or slept) through his six-hour vigil six years ago, bringing up his century from 189 balls. Interestingly, his first 50 runs had taken just 61 of those.
At the other end Buttler drove and swept with aplomb, duly reaching his own half century from 68 balls; each boundary only serving to deepen the shade of puce marking Troughton’s face. The impressive Chris Wright returned to trap Buttler lbw, playing across a straight one on 93 to leave the pair just nine runs short of equalling the record Somerset sixth wicket partnership against the Bears and sparking a flurry of three wickets for five runs in less than two overs.
The match remained very much in the balance with Warwickshire requiring 259 to win in their second innings and both sides confident of victory; Somerset wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter had suggested that a lead of 180 was defendable during a visit to the Edgbaston press box earlier in the day.
After failing to impress the watching Geoff Miller yesterday, Warwickshire opener and England hopeful Varun Chopra did little to enhance his claims, top-edging a ghastly pull shot off the front-foot to be caught by Kieswetter for 10 shortly after surprise makeshift opener Neil Carter had perished attempting to drive left-arm spinner George Dockrell through extra cover, Jos Buttler completing a smart catch.
The decision to promote Carter to open the innings proved a shrewd one as the all-rounder set about removing the lacquer from the new ball in typically robust fashion, his 26 coming from just 17 balls. The left-hander has never been the most competent player of spin, though, and the trend continued as it took Dockrell just three balls to get his man.
Ian Westwood and William Porterfield are two players likely to be looking over their shoulders with the return of England batsman Ian Bell to the Warwickshire fold next week, but the duo saw out the remaining overs of the day to leave Warwickshire well set at 123-2, requiring a further 136 for a victory that had looked unlikely in the aftermath of Troughton’s fielding horror show.
Porterfield, ending the day with an unbeaten 57, was particularly impressive as he produced an array of scorching straight drives to blunt an eager Somerset attack and deny a baying slip cordon.
It was an irony that will be lost on few of the Warwickshire faithful that Troughton later took a marvellous catch diving backwards at mid-off to remove first innings top scorer Philander, though it did little to atone for his unwilling contribution to what could yet prove to be a match winning partnership. Of all the Warwickshire captain’s collector’s items, this one might just fetch the highest price.
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