Trott returns as Warwicks win
Jonathan Trott tiptoed through his latest comeback with little more than a walk-on part as Warwickshire brushed aside the holders, Northamptonshire, by eight wickets in the NatWest T20 Blast north group at Edgbaston.
The England batsman faced seven balls and nudged just a single as the Bears made it four wins in a row by cruising past the Steelbacks' below-par total of 133 for seven with four overs to spare.
It was only this much of a contest thanks to the Steelbacks' belated lower-order acceleration, mainly through Steven Crook's six fours and a six in an undefeated 51 from 36 balls.
Warwickshire made light of their task. Varun Chopra dashed to a 29-ball half-century in an opening stand that was worth 95 before Graeme White bowled Wlliam Porterfield for 42 in the 10th over.
The target was down to 39 when Trott walked out in front of the Sky cameras for his first innings in front of a live TV audience since a stress-related illness was revealed after his last Test appearance in Brisbane in November.
Sent home from Australia immediately after that match, he attempted a return with his county team in April, but after only two first-class games he announced that he would be taking "another extended break".
The rehab period eventually lasted for seven weeks until he began playing in the Second XI at the beginning of June.
Warwickshire always said they would only recall him to the first team as and when he felt ready.
This was that time but after getting off the mark from his sixth balll, pushing for one on the leg-side off White, he scooped a simple catch to mid-wicket off seamer Mohammad Azharullah.
It was no more than a hiccup for the Bears as Chopra saw the job through with a four and a six off Crook to reach an unbeaten 68 from 44 balls.
For the Steelbacks this was an unhappy return to the ground where they won last year's competition by trouncing Surrey after a fabulous all-round performance by David Wlley.
In the intervening 306 days they achieved promotion in the LV= County Championship but have since suffered six consecutive defeats in Division One and spluttered so far in defence of their short-format trophy.
Bating problems have dogged them throughout the season and once more they were pushed on to the back foot, losing two wickets to Chris Wright in the second over and stagnating as Rikki Clarke took one for eight in four overs.
Clarke's spell, which included 18 dot balls and Rob Keogh's wicket with Chopra's second slip catch, is the most economical for Warwickshire in the competition.
The immediate impact for Northamptonshire was that Willey faced only six balls in the power play and the big-hitting left hander barely got going before he was lbw for 13, heaving across the line against Jeetal Patel.
David Sales chipped in with 23 until brilliantly caught by Ateeq Javid, running back towards third man, and the rate finally picked up as Ben Duckett made 21 out of 47 with Crook.
But they never really recovered from the damage inflicted by Warwickshire's opening bowlers.
Before this match Clarke had bowled only one over in the competition this season - and that cost 14 runs. "There was a bit of nip in the wicket early on," he said. "I've come back from a broken finger and I'm just working on my bowling fitness."
For Northants this was a third defeat in a row and competition skipper Kyle Coetzer says Friday's game against Lancashire is in the must win" category.
"We've not had enough runs on the board," he said. "Warwickshire bowled well early doors and we weren't able to set a platform. We didn't expect the ball to nip around and swing a s much as it did."