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Day Four

Half-centuries from Ian Bell, Tim Ambrose and Keith Barker led Warwickshire to safety as Surrey had to settle for a draw after dominating much of their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.

Warwickshire began the last day on 162 for four, leading by only 57 and with plenty of batting to do to stave off the prospect of a third successive defeat.

But, abetted by a flattening pitch and the loss of ten overs to rain, they  advanced to 435 for eight, thanks principally to Bell (99 from 162 balls, ten fours), Ambrose (85, 128 balls, 13 fours) and Barker (70 not out, 80 balls, 13 fours.

Surrey’s seamers, led by Tom Curran who finished with four for 112 and eight wickets in the match, persevered but were blunted by a pitch which declined to deteriorate and a Warwickshire batting unit which, unlike in the first two games this season, declined to fold.

Unbeaten overnight, Bell and Ambrose had almost negotiated the first hour’s play when Bell, a single short of his 52nd first-class century, pushed forward to Gareth Batty and edged to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.

Ambrose and Rikki Clarke then added an unbroken 58 before bad light brought an early lunch. After the interval they extended their alliance to 80 before falling in successive overs from Tom Curran. Clarke (27, 66 balls, five fours) edged to Scott Borthwick at second slip and Ambrose sliced to Kumar Sangakkara at first.

That left Warwickshire 198 ahead with three wickets left and 48 overs remaining so Surrey still had a sniff of victory but Barker continued his consistent form with the bat this season. He added 41 in 13 overs with Jeetan Patel and, after Patel fell lbw to Tom Curran, found another resolute partner in pace-bowling partner Chris Wright (36 not out, 53 balls, six fours).

Barker completed his third half-century in six championship innings this season as the ninth-wicket pair added an unbroken 91 before hands were shaken.

Day Three

Surrey’s remain well on top of their Specsavers County Championship tussle with Warwickshire at Edgbaston but their advance towards victory met some resistance on day three.

Trailing by 105 on first innings, Warwickshire closed the third day on 162 for four.

Half-centuries from Ian Westwood (52, 118 balls, six fours) and Ian Bell (68 not out, 115 balls, seven fours) at least removed the unthinkable prospect of a third successive innings defeat for their side. But Warwickshire have plenty of batting still to do to avoid a third successive defeat which would, even at this early stage, raise the alarming prospect of relegation.

Having dominated the match, Surrey would be aggrieved not to finish the job, but their grip loosened slightly when, having resumed on the third morning on 299 for three, they were all out for 437. A lead of 105 is very useful but not of the crushing weight that appeared possible when play began with Kumar Sangakkara unbeaten on 98.

The great Sri Lankan soon completed his 58th first-class century but, on 105 (165 balls, ten fours, two sixes), edged Keith Barker to Rikki Clarke at second slip.

Dominic Sibley 56 (106 balls, seven fours) and Ben Foakes added 48 in 12 overs but after the latter pulled Olly Hannon-Dalby to long-leg and Sibley fell lbw to Clarke, the innings declined quickly. Jeetan Patel removed Sam Curran (32, 47 balls), Gareth Batty and Mark Footitt in 22 balls while Chris Wright had Jade Dernbach caught at mid-off.

Westwood and William Porterfield gave Warwickshire’s second innings a solid start with a stand of 45 before Dernbach entered the attack and began with successive wicket-maidens. His sixth ball took Porterfield’s edge through to the wicketkeeper and his 12th meted out Jonathan Trott’s third duck in six championship innings, courtesy of Sangakkara’s catch at second slip.

Westwood and Bell dug in to add 68 in 25 overs. This time last year, former captain Westwood was enduring a nightmare run of form from which some onlookers thought his career would not recover. Far from it. When the 34-year-old edged Tom Curran behind, his return to the team after a broken foot has brought 205 runs from 519 minutes defiance of one the best seam-attacks in county cricket.

Scott Borthwick struck an important late blow when he bowled Ateeq Javid and Warwickshire will need a true captain’s effort from Bell, with some resolute support, to stave off defeat.

Day Two

Mark Stoneman completed quickfire back-to-back centuries against Warwickshire as Surrey took command of their Specsavers County Championship match on the third day at Edgbaston.

In reply to the home side’s 332, Surrey closed the second day on 299 for three, trailing by just 33 with plenty of power to add.

Stoneman, who scored 165 against Warwickshire on his championship debut for Surrey at The Oval two weeks ago, followed that up with 123 (201 balls, 14 fours, one six). And while the 29-year-old calmly and efficiently exploited a flattening pitch and a softening ball, Kumar Sangakkara added his peerless input at the other end.

At the close the Sri Lankan had reached an unbeaten 98 (150 balls, nine fours, two sixes) against a home attack which prised much less life from the pitch than had their Surrey counterparts.

It was a day of complete Surrey domination after their batsmen continued the bowlers’ good work from the morning. After Warwickshire resumed on 292 for six, the visitors’ seamers made short work of the lower order to round off the innings for 332.

Mark Footitt trapped Rikki Clarke lbw, Sam Curran had Jeetan Patel caught at point and yorked Chris Wright and when Olly Hannon-Dalby lifted Tom Curran to cover, Warwickshire had lost their last seven wickets for 69.

Tom Curran finished with four for 98, Footitt three for 66 and Sam Curran three for 74.

In reply, Surrey soon lost Rory Burns, who edged Wright to slip in the fourth over, but Stoneman and Scott Borthwick (50, 89 balls, seven fours) added 116 in 28 overs before the latter edged Clarke to first slip.

Stoneman had almost perished very first ball, when he lifted a cut at Keith Barker and Ateeq Javid almost hung on to a spectacular diving catch at point. The former Durham player was dropped on 83 by William Porterfield in the gully off Wright, but was otherwise assured and comfortable until he fell lbw, trying to pull a Barker delivery.

Sangakkara, meanwhile, played with enormous poise at the venue at which he scored one of the very best of his 57 first-class centuries, a brilliant 149 on his Warwickshire debut on a damp wicket against Durham in 2007. Two of his first seven scoring shots were sixes, eased over fine-leg and third man, and the prospect of facing the great Sri Lankan again in the morning is not one to thrill Warwickshire’s bowlers this evening.

Day One

Ian Westwood supplied the batting backbone that Warwickshire desperately needed with a defiant century on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match with Surrey at Edgbaston.

Former captain Westwood, back in the team after recovering from a broken foot, made 153 (227 balls, 21 fours, two sixes) out of his side’s 292 for six.

Beneath unremittingly grey skies, with the floodlights on all day, the 34-year-old showed the resilience and concentration that Warwickshire’s batsmen sorely lacked in their first two matches. Having failed to take a single batting point from those games, both innings defeats, Ian Bell’s side will hope that their season started here.

For Surrey, things did not go quite to plan after they chose to bowl on a good batting pitch. Their seamers fought back impressively in the final session, taking three wickets including Westwood, but it again raised the question of whether captains are sometimes seduced into bowling first simply because they have the option.

When these teams met at The Oval two weeks ago, Warwickshire chose to bowl and Surrey closed day one on 327 for three, the foundations of an innings victory firmly laid.

Surrey’s bowlers were no doubt eager to get straight at opposition they skittled for 91 two weeks ago but opening pair Westwood and William Porterfield (45, 97 balls, seven fours) added 126 before the latter edged Tom Curran to second slip in the last over before lunch.

Jonathan Trott hit three sumptuous fours in a run-a-ball 14 but then edged Tom Curran to Scott Borthwick in the slips. Westwood and Ian Bell added 79 in 21 overs before Bell (33, 64 balls, seven fours) fished at one from Mark Footitt and Borthwick accepted another sharp chance.

Ateeq Javid, also playing his first game of the season having replaced the out-of-form Sam Hain, knuckled down to make 14 in 70 minutes out before falling to the persevering Curran (T). Javid edged into the slips two balls after Surrey were convinced that he had nicked one to the wicketkeeper. Safe to say they were less than sympathetic when he was out.

Surrey fought hard and bowled well in a last session trimmed of 12 overs by bad light. Sam Curran trapped Tim Ambrose (23, 33 balls, four fours) lbw with the third ball with the new ball and then Footitt struck the big blow when Borthwick’s third catch of the day sent Westwood on his weary way.