During his mighty career as a player, Dennis Amiss was part of some successful Warwickshire sides – and some very far-from-successful ones.
Amiss was a member of the Bears’ Gillette Cup-winning teams in 1966 and 1968 and the squad which won the County Championship in 1972.
But after that ’72 triumph came a very lean era for the club as the team largely drifted through the 1970s and the 1980s with the drift punctuated by more shocking lows than inspiring highs.
When I was a player we went through plenty of years where we didn’t have such a strong side. Every team has those years and that’s what makes it so much more satisfying when you have the success.Dennis Amiss
The 1972 title win leaned heavily on overseas players Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran, Deryck Murray and Lance Gibbs and, it soon became clear, too heavily with insufficient home-grown talent coming through. On four occasions during the ’80s Warwickshire finished in the bottom three of the County Championship. Twice they finished 17th and took the wooden spoon.
In the John Player League, meanwhile, at times they were a laughing stock with the nadir coming in 1979 when they won just two of 16 games. That ’79 season, in which they finished 15th in the championship, was described by Wisden correspondent John Moxley as “the type of season every county dreads.” The team, said Moxley, “slid from one catastrophe to another” inside an Edgbaston Stadium which “resembled a huge mausoleum which mere pockets of spectators lost on the huge terraces.”
Remarkably, even during that wretched year, Amiss’s quality towered as he managed to average 50 in the championship among all the disarray. But as the Warwickshire legend, who still follows the club’s fortunes minutely, reflected upon the Bears’ struggles of 2017, he could truly empathise with their disappointment and frustrations.
He’s been there – and can vouch that the cycle will turn again.
After the nightmare 1979 Sunday League season, in 1980 the Bears won it! And Edgbaston quickly shed the mausoleum tag as eight Sunday League home games attracted 46,000 spectators.
The largely barren ’80s were followed by the trophy-laden early-to-mid-’90s. The dreadful 2007 season led to reconstruction which delivered red and white-ball silverware. The cycle turns.
“When I was a player we went through plenty of years where we didn’t have such a strong side,” Amiss said. “Every team has those years and that’s what makes it so much more satisfying when you have the success.
“When I was in business one of my old bosses used to always say whenever we won a new contract, always celebrate it – and that’s what you have to do in sport. You go through lows in your career, both personally and as a team, so you have to really enjoy it when things go well.
“Warwickshire have won a lot of trophies in recent years. Last season did not go so well. That happens. What matters is how you react and how quickly you react and the important thing is they reacted quickly to start the rebuilding process.
We all know how much Jeets has brought to the club over the last few years and he has loads of knowledge and experience which will really help the younger players.Dennis Amiss
“In Ashley Giles and Jim Troughton as sport director and first-team coach they have got two good blokes in charge and I have every confidence they will turn things back round again and hopefully we will get straight back up again in the championship.
“I always thought Ash was high quality as a cricketer and a bloke and felt from very early on that he had a lot to offer, on and off the cricket field. He proved that when he became director of cricket and took us up in his first season and then won the championship four years later.
“He has all the qualities you need. He is a good man-manager but has some steel in there too. Jim is cut from similar cloth and they work very well together.”
As he looks ahead to the 2018 season, Amiss expects new captain Jeetan Patel to be one very big influence for Warwickshire – and another to be Ian Bell.
“The club has made a really good appointment in Jeetan Patel as captain,” he said. “We all know how much Jeets has brought to the club over the last few years and he has loads of knowledge and experience which will really help the younger players.
“Belly has come through a tough time and should deliver big runs next season. He played a really good knock right at the end of the season, in the last game against Hampshire, and looked like his old self which was great to see. Now he can go on for as many more years as he wants and finish his career on a high – and that’s exactly how you want to go out.”