On Thursday, Paul Collingwood apologised to his bowlers for winning the toss at Headingley.
Yesterday Collingwood again had the choice of whether to bat or bowl, and was again quickly regretting his decision. This time, his bowlers ought to have been the ones saying sorry.
As they had in Leeds at the start of the week, Durham’s attack gave the opposition a big head-start.
Two late wickets from John Hastings gave the scoreline a more positive gloss at 256-5, but it is better than Warwickshire could have hoped for after being put in.
Colingwood’s decision at Headingley was a bit of an odd one, but yesterday seemed a nailed-on bowl first day. The morning session had been wiped out by rain and there was plenty of cloud lingering when play began at 1.45pm on a pitch over to the river side of the ground, where bowlers traditionally find more help.
Plus, Durham had the king of the swingers, Graham Onions, back after six matches out with a back injury.
The first session was not quite as bad as in Leeds, where Adam Lyth and Alex Lees were helped along to 145-0 in the opening session. This time Warwickshire only made 139 in a few overs more because of the weather-induced rejig, and Durham at least took a couple of wickets.
Unlike last Monday, the malaise continued until the last hour of a strangely subdued day.
Much more of this and Collingwood will have to get hold of a double-headed coin – and start calling tails!
Adding to the frustration, Durham’s over-rate was so appalling there were still eight left when time ought to have been called at 6.30pm. Such tardiness costs points.
It was even more reason to get Scott Borthwick’s leg spin on earlier than the 62nd over. When the Wearsider did finally come on, he needed just three deliveries to remove an over-excitable Will Porterfield and end his 132-run stand with Jonathan Trott, who would also perish in the final hour.
When Varun Chopra cut Onions’ first delivery since May 11 to the boundary it was a sign of things to come.
On first change, Hastings bowled well, beating the bat brilliantly a couple of times before Warwickshire’s stand-in captain Chopra played the ball onto his own stumps.
The rest failed to get their lines right, either short even to leave or full enough to be hit for four.
Chris Rushworth had to watch a forcing shot off the back foot by Porterfield loop over Michael Richardson’s head as he jumped up at gully.
The Irishman was confident enough to upper-cut Mark Wood for four – inevitably he got a bouncer for his troubles – and when he ended the over with an edge, it fell just short of the diving Phil Mustard. But considering how much conditions were in Durham’s favour, there were remarkably few scares.
In the end, Collingwood had no choice but to take matters into his own hands. He may only have had two County Championship wickets since September 2011, but his lesser pace made him more likely to exploit the swing on offer. When he got one to leave Ian Westwood in his third over, Gordon Muchall took a good low catch at first slip. Westwood was Collingwood’s first four-day victim since May 2013.
Disappointingly, Collingwood’s reaction was to take himself out of the attack at the first available opportunity.
Durham’s captain wants Wood to be Durham’s Mitchell Johnson, so bringing him back for the appearance of Trott was self-explanatory, while Onions operated from the other end. But Trott obviously knew what was coming and unlike against Johnson, dealt with it reasonably comfortably.
Making only his second Championship appearance since aborting his return from his Ashes nightmare, Trott needed only 66 deliveries to make his first First-Class half-century since the warm-up games for the last Test series in Australia. He looked odds-on to double it before Hastings’ final spell of the day.
Warwickshire reached a batting point before the 53rd over was up, Porterfield driving a full, wide ball from Wood for four the delivery after bringing up the 100 partnership with Trott.
Porterfield was almost out the ball after driving Hastings for four through the legside to reach 50. He got a leading edge from the next ball, but it went over the head of Onions at mid-on.
By the time he offered another chance, the partnership was worth 123.
He was late on his pull, edging Onions to Borthwick at second slip, where the chance was put down. It was not routine, but mental tiredness seemed to play a big part in the closing stages.
Porterfield needed ten runs from the last ten overs of the day when Borthwick came on to bowl, but was impatient to get there.
When the leg-spinner served up a juicy long-hop he was too quickly onto it, and succeeded only in pulling high into the air, for Mustard to collect around short leg. After 61-and-a-half overs of toil, Durham had a bowling point.
Trott’s wicket was a pleasant surprise, edging the first delivery of Hastings’ final spell of the day to gully on 76. The Australian cleaned up nightwatchman Chris Wright too, with a yorker.
Paul Coughlin, Usman Arshad and Max Morley are set to feature in a strong second XI attack at Leicestershire this week. Gavin Main and Calum MacLeod are back after international duty with Scotland. Durham play in the Second XI Trophy at Grace Road today, followed by a Championship match at Hinckley.