Watching a day's cricket can be a little like visiting a circus. Spectators watch open-mouthed as a series of performances astonish them. Awe informs their applause.
Other days, no less absorbing, no less worthy of praise, are more like visits to a craft workshop. Quietly, the crowd observes skilled men going about their daily tasks. The appreciative murmurs of the paying public reflects a shared absorption in the struggle for advantage.
Tuesday's cricket at Liverpool was of the second variety. No one took more than Gary Keedy's three wickets, no one scored more than Chris Woakes's 60 runs; yet the development of the contest may be vital in the destiny of the 2011 LV= County Championship.
At the end of a day interrupted by a 50-minute break for rain in the early afternoon, Lancashire have reached 32 for no wicket and need 59 runs to make Warwickshire bat again. Much of the day was taken up with the efforts of Jim Troughton's batsmen, nine of whom reached double figures, to score 250 runs as they took their overnight 30 for one to a total of 280 and a prized first-innings lead of 91.
Indeed, Woakes's 112-ball 60 helped Warwickshire establish an advantage over Lancashire before Paul Horton and Stephen Moore fought back on the second day of the LV= County Championship match .
England international Woakes was well-supported by his colleagues as Jim Troughton's batsmen fought for superiority with Glen Chapple's attack on an easing pitch.
"Unfortunately we didn't get as many runs in our first innings as we would have liked on that wicket," said Gary Keedy on Tuesday evening. "But we bowled them out for 280 and if we bat well second time around and post a decent score, that'll give us a chance of bowling Warwickshire out again. The wicket's pretty good, but it's just starting to take a bit of spin.
"I've played at some ground recently where I've not really bowled that much, so it's nice to get a half-decent bowl here and to pick up a few wickets. Hopefully it will help me keep my rhythm for the last part of the season."
"The most important thing tomorrow is for us to bat solid and get ourselves a decent total which will give us something to bowl at in the fourth innings.
The tone of the day was set by a competitive first session in which Warwickshire scored 82 runs for the loss of three key wickets. Kyle Hogg claimed the first of these with the 17th ball of the morning when he had Will Porterfield lbw playing around his front leg for 13.
Saj Mahmood trapped Laurie Evans lbw on the back foot for 12, although the Lancashire fast bowler had an unfortunate spell in which he found it difficult to strike a rhythm and bowled Troughton with his first delivery, only for umpire Mark Saggers to rule that it was a no ball.
Hogg, though, returned to have Tim Ambrose caught behind for 11, the Bears wicketkeeper playing a wild slash to a wide delivery to leave his side on 96 for four.
The last part of the afternoon session belonged to the visitors, who recovered from 133 for five when Rikki Clarke was lbw to Mahmood and scored 116 for the loss of three wickets to take a 39-run lead into tea.
Much of this work was done by Woakes, who shared a vital sixth-wicket partnership of 40 with his skipper Troughton, before the Bears skipper slapped a short ball from Tom Smith straight to Mark Chilton at cover and was dismissed for 49
Undaunted, Woakes put on a further 53 with Keith Barker, who made 33 before giving Gary Keedy his first wicket on the stroke of tea.
Woakes reached fifty for the fourth time in the Championship this season immediately after the interval as Warwickshire's advantage grew from the slender to the substantial. But Keedy's accuracy was rewarded when Woakes miscued a drive to Tom Smith at short extra cover and Chapple bowled Carter before a 28-run last-wicket stand between Rankin and Jeetan Patel secured that 91-run lead.
Finally Patel skied Keedy to Steven Croft to leave the slow left-armer with figures of three for 48, and both Hogg and Chapple also bowled well, finishing with two for 43 and two for 60 respectively. Smith took one for 31 while Mahmood finished with two for 86.
Day 1 Report
Photos (c) Simon Pendrigh
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