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Trott and Bell in fine fettle

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Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell stepped up their preparations for England's hectic summer with half-centuries to put Warwickshire in a strong position on the first day of their LV= County Championship match against Sussex at the County Ground.

Trott was dropped on one by Ed Joyce and it proved to be an expensive miss by the Sussex captain as England’s number three made an undefeated 87 in his first innings since the third Test against New Zealand in Auckland six weeks ago.

Bell, captaining Warwickshire for the first time in a year in the absence of the injured Jim Troughton, scored 56 in his first appearance of the season with Warwickshire well placed on 276 for four at stumps.

It was little surprise to see Trott proving to be Sussex's nemesis again. Since scoring 134 against them on his Warwickshire debut 10 years ago, the 32-year-old has made three further hundreds and a career-best 210 in 2009.

Jonathan Trott & Ian Bell

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell both found form as Warwickshire enjoyed a good time with the bat at Sussex, ending the day on 276 for four

His reprieve came when he edged former team-mate James Anyon at knee height to third slip but, despite getting a hand on the ball, Joyce could not hang on.

On three, Trott edged just short of Joyce and the ball went to the boundary but - once he got the measure of a slow pitch and a Sussex attack which lacked a cutting edge in the absence of the injured Steve Magoffin - it was plain sailing.

The platform for Trott and Bell's dominance in the second half of the day had been laid by Varun Chopra, who became the first batsman this season to reach 500 first-class runs when he made 82.

Chopra, who gets a chance to showcase his talents for England Lions against New Zealand next week, scarcely played a false shot until he under-edged an attempted cut off Chris Nash and Matt Prior, who is keeping wicket in this game at England's request, took the catch.

Nash was one of eight bowlers, including four spinners, employed by Joyce but it was hard work for the Sussex attack with the ball hardly varying off the straight all day.

Chopra and Will Porterfield, who was called up from a second XI game because of Warwickshire's mounting injury concerns, launched the innings with a stand of 87 before Anyon returned to the attack for a second spell prior to lunch and induced Porterfield to edge to Chris Jordan at slip.

Sussex delayed taking the new ball, but then Jordan took wickets in successive overs.

Bell edged to Prior, trying to evade a well-directed bouncer, having hit seven fours in a stand of 131 in 43 overs, then nightwatchman Chris Wright fell in virtually identical fashion in the final over of the day.

It could have ended even better for Sussex when Tim Ambrose edged his second ball, but Mike Yardy was unable to hold on to a straightforward chance at second slip.

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