Westwood clicks into gear again
Ian Westwood led Warwickshire’s drive for batting points as Paul Franks battled to keep Nottinghamshire in contention in the clash of two LV= County Championship title contenders at Edgbaston.
Westwood made an impressive 81 and Franks took three wickets in an innings for the first time in 14 months, but a stand of 102 between Tim Ambrose and Rikki Clarke protected Warwickshire’s position at top of Division One as they closed on 298 for five.
Without a win since May, Nottinghamshire have reached the make-or-break point in their bid to regain the crown they won two years ago.
A win in Birmingham is thought to be essential given that they will be without five England players as well as Australian batsman Adam Voges when Warwickshire go to Trent Bridge for the final fixture of the season.
A different kind of pressure is on the leaders as they struggle to get over the finishing line after an unconvincing performance against Middlesex last week.
Knowing that a draw with a good haul of bonus points could see off Nottinghamshire’s challenge, they won the toss and set about building a big total.
After three century opening stands in four matches, it was a setback to lose Varun Chopra for 11 when his edge off Luke Fletcher was knocked up by Riki Wessels and held by Alex Hales at first slip.
Westwood, though, is in the form of his life with two centuries and now a second score in the 80s while hitting 395 runs in six championship knocks this month.
Confidence exuded from his strokes, either whipped wide of midwicket or punched past extra cover, but he lost another partner when Will Porterfield played on in Franks’ first spell.
Captains past and present then put Warwickshire back on course as Westwood and Jim Troughton added 83 in 22 overs until Franks removed the two left-handers in the space of nine deliveries.
Troughton, who made 40, got a thin edge to Chris Read and an inswinger trapped Westwood after he had hit 11 fours from 164 balls.
At 178 for four, the day could have gone either way.
It was Warwickshire who seized the moment with a renewal of the middle-order strength which served them so well in winning four of the first six matches.
After a quieter spell with the bat, Ambrose reached an unbeaten 64 and ticked off the first batting points before Clarke fell to the new ball when caught behind off Fletcher for 47.
To add to Nottinghamshire’s problems, Andre Adams, who missed the last match with a calf injury, left the field in the final session after bowling 18 overs for 82 runs.