Ian Bell was playing to an influential audience on the way to an impressive century which set him well apart from the rest as Warwickshire took control at Trent Bridge.
New England coach Peter Moores, national selector James Whitaker and his colleague on the panel Mick Newell were all in attendance as Bell compiled a highly-skilled 122 out of 263 all out. In conditions favouring ball over bat for this LV= Division One match, Nottinghamshire then collapsed to 43-6 by stumps.
Bell, who was taking his season’s aggregate to 400 runs already in just five innings at an average of an even 100, was not playing to the gallery.
As captain of a Warwickshire team still seeking a first victory, he led from the front – demonstrating, as a by-product, against an attack led by Australia linchpin seamer Peter Siddle, that he is in top form as the start of the international summer looms.
Bell is one of several England regulars to have begun the summer with plenty of runs – including captain Alastair Cook – as they try to put a miserable Ashes winter behind them.
“A lot of players have started really well,” said Bell. “Obviously, with what’s happened in the winter, people are looking for reactions and everyone is showing the hunger and desperation to get English cricket back on track.”
Eighteen wickets fell at Wantage Road, meanwhile, as Northamptonshire bowled Lancashire out for 119 – Steven Crook (3-26) the statistical pick of the bowlers against his old club – before England lynchpin James Anderson (5-37) led the Red Rose fightback in the hosts’ 133-8.
Early championship leaders Sussex were held up by rain until after tea against Somerset at Hove, where the visitors closed on 83-3.
There was a similarly delayed start in Division Two for Worcestershire against Derbyshire at New Road. But in only 3.5 overs subsequently possible, the hosts made hasty progress – dismissing both openers as their opponents chose to bat yet slipped to 3-2.
At the Ageas Bowl, 43 overs were bowled after which Hampshire had reached 153-2.