Warwickshire strengthened their position at the top of the LV= County Championship table by posting a huge first innings score on the third day of their match against Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston.
With wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose compiling an undefeated 151, the home side reached 504-6 before declaring and then reduced the visitors to 69-4.
From that point Notts responded with an encouraging counter-attack from Alex Hales and Chris Read, who put on 119 together in 27 overs.
By stumps Hales had reached 80 and Read was on 54 not out, with the board on 188-4, still 167 away from avoiding the follow-on.
Hales, who scored an unbeaten century on this ground in the 2011 fixture, admitted he enjoyed batting at Edgbaston.
“Both last year and this we have been blessed with good batting surfaces here. We’ve got to bat well now tomorrow, avoid the follow-on and make sure we save the game. We’re looking for as many batting points as we can now to try and make sure we finish as high as we can.”
Coming into the match on the back of a ton against Durham, the opener says it’s better late than never. “It’s a little bit late in the season but I’ll take it. It’s nice to find a bit of form with a big winter lying ahead of me. I just want to try and build on this start and keep Ready company for as long as I can tomorrow.”
The home side had reached 298-5 on the first day and the unbeaten Tim Ambrose and Chris Wright resumed their innings after the second day wash-out.
Wright had batted out the final six overs as nightwatchman on Tuesday and eased himself back into his work against Luke Fletcher and Andy Carter.
Neither bowler had much to be encouraged about on a really good surface but the introduction into the attack of Graeme White, shifted the momentum significantly.
Wright lifted the spinner for a straight six to move to 47 and reached his fifty with a ferocious shot which ricocheted out of the hands of the bowler.
After a 97 run stand Notts picked up their second bowling point as 6’7” Carter leapt to catch Wright (53) off White but Warwicks weren’t long in adding more runs as Blackwell hit his second delivery over the ropes for another maximum.
The home side safely secured their fifth batting point and then Ambrose reached his first championship ton since 2009 by clipping Franks away for a legside four.
Blackwell, on loan from Durham, attacked White with relish – hitting him for back-to-back sixes to end the spinner’s spell.
The morning session produced a total of 158 runs, at more than five per over, just for the loss of Wright and ended with Blackwell hitting the last ball from Carter for his fourth six to bring up his own fifty from just 39 deliveries faced.
Ambrose and Blackwell stretched their stand to 127 before Jim Troughton declared the innings closed half an hour after lunch.
Blackwell had hit Fletcher high over long on for his fifth six, on the way to an undefeated 67, whilst Ambrose’s first maximum, off White, took him from 144 to 150.
Nottinghamshire barely had time to begin their first innings when a sweeping shower sent the players back to the pavilion, with the total on 9-0 after 2.4 overs.
Openers Alex Hales and Riki Wessels returned to the crease after a 30-minute delay and each stroked elegant boundaries off the bowling of Wright.
Wessels (10) had clipped him away square of the wicket but when he tried it again he could only pick out Ian Westwood, who scooped the ball up inches from the ground.
A further stoppage forced an early tea, with the resumption leaving a lengthy 49-over period to be squeezed in.
Michael Lumb (12) started nicely but then edged Chris Barker to Chopra at slip and James Taylor (1) trod on his own stumps off Wright.
Hales then lost another partner as Voges (8) was taken by a sharp gully catch from Porterfield in Milnes’ first over.
Two boundaries for Hales off Wright took him into the 40s and brought the 100 up in the 25th over.
Chris Read brought some stability and impetus to the innings, stylishly working the ball around the Edgbaston outfield and proving a perfect foil for his partner.
The pair dominated the final session with both men passing fifty (Hales from 86 balls, Read from six fewer) before the darkest of black clouds fell over the Birmingham skyline and brought a stoppage at 6.20pm, with still 11 overs unbowled.