Byline: By George Dobell Chief Cricket Writer
The weather may deny them but Warwickshire can leave Uxbridge today feeling well satis Sed with their continued improvement in form.
Rain and bad light have already taken 84 overs from this match and the forecast for today is not encouraging. But, in following a determined display of batting with a skilled display of bowling, Warwickshire have produced arguably their best championship performance for several years and fully deserve to clinch victory today.
Certainly it is hard to recall a better performance from their bowling unit. In dismissing Middlesex for their lowest total of the season, Warwickshire's seamers produced an intelligent, skilful and disciplined display and, for the second time in three matches, forced the opposition to follow on.
It is a telling statistic. It suggests that both the batting and bowling units are starting to function more effectively as well as more consistently and bodes well for the remainder of the season.
This performance was even better than the one against Glamorgan at Cardiff, however.
While Glamorgan are a brittle batting unit that is used to losing, Middlesex have, on paper at least, a strong batting line-up and are second in the points table.
What is more, this is a slow pitch. While atmospheric conditions did aid swing bowling there was little in it to justify yesterday's collapse of seven wickets for 75 runs in 22 overs. Perhaps Middlesex were a little unfortunate.
The regular rain disruptions must have made concentration difScult (54 more overs were lost yesterday) while the conditions appear to have aided swing bowling far more than when Warwickshire batted. They will also reRect, however, that several of them sold their wickets too cheaply with a lack of application and technique being apparent.
It had appeared that Warwickshire were set for an attritional day's cricket. Owais Shah was in determined mood and Eoin Morgan looked in good touch as he drove neatly down the ground.
So when Jonathan Trott dropped Shah, on 25, prodding at a Chris Martin delivery, it appeared that a golden opportunity had been spurned. Warwickshire did not allow their spirits to drop, however, as might have happened last season, and maintained their aggression admirably.
Neil Carter, who is now the subject of a formal approach from Gloucestershire as well as Glamorgan, was especially impressive. …