Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott enjoyed another profitable day against Sussex to put second division leaders Warwickshire in a strong position after day one of their Specsavers County Championship match at Hove.
Bell scored his fifth Championship hundred against the county and Trott is in sight of his sixth against Sussex in his final away game before retirement. Together they helped Warwickshire reach 308 for 2 at stumps. Bell will resume on 108 and Trott 86 after they shared 206 in 68 overs for the third wicket.
A draw would seal an immediate return to the top flight with a game to spare for Warwickshire and Bell and Trott made sure they didn’t waste the advantage of winning the toss and batting first on a slow pitch expected to turn later on.
Jason Gillespie, Sussex coach, said: "The wicket hasn't got as much bounce and carry as we'd like, but you have to give credit to Warwickshire, Bell and Trott batted really well. There were spells when we bowled well but we didn't do it consistently enough. The bowlers put in a shift but it was hard work at times.
"Tom Haines has gone for a scan on an injured ankle, but we don't expect him to play any further part in the game.".
Dom Sibley and Will Rhodes laid solid foundations with a stand of 96 for the first wicket and although both fell just before lunch that proved to be the most productive part of the day for Sussex’s seam attack who were blunted by a combination of the pitch and Bell and Trott’s enduring excellence.
They came together after Sibley and Rhodes had departed in the space of 15 balls. Sibley (44) was rightly furious with himself when he squandered a good start by picking out mid-wicket after coming down the pitch to drive left-arm spinner Danny Briggs only to get a thick inside edge.
Rhodes played on to David Wiese and lost his leg bail shortly after reaching his seventh half-century of the season but that was as good as it got for Sussex, who used seven bowlers trying to part Bell and Trott including medium-pacer Tom Haines, who was struck for six by Bell before limping off with an ankle injury.
Leg-spinner Luke Wells, one of seven bowlers used, got a couple of deliveries to turn and Sussex took the new ball immediately it became available but Bell and Trott rarely played a false shot, never mind offering a chance, on a placid surface.
Bell reached his fifth Championship century of the season by driving Chris Jordan to the cover boundary for his 11th boundary and by the close he had batted for just over four hours and faced 235 balls.
It was his 57th first-class hundred and he became only the second batsman this season after Surrey’s Rory Burns to reach 1,000 Championship runs when he reached 106.
Trott has so far hit ten fours from 183 balls faces in a shade under four hours at the crease.
Briggs and Wells sent down 31 overs of spin between them but it was a tough day for Sussex, who need to win this game and beat Northamptonshire next week to have any chance of sneaking into the top two.