Warwickshire sport director Ashley Giles says the club’s impending relegation to the Specsavers County Championship Division Two “really hurts” – and the objective now is to transform the Bears’ red-ball cricket the same way as their T20 team was galvanised this summer.
Defeat to champions-elect Essex this week left the Bears contemplating Division Two four-day cricket next year for the first time since 2008.
it will take a while to get over it but ultimately, over a season, stats don’t lie and ours make pretty poor reading.Ashley Giles
It has been a chastening championship season for Warwickshire, their squad in deep transition, with eight defeats from 12 games ahead of the final two fixtures, away to Yorkshire next week and then at home to Hampshire.
Giles pulls no punches in his appraisal of it.
“Relegation really hurts,” he said. “It hurts the whole dressing-room and management. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a relegation as part of a cricket management team and it will take a while to get over it but ultimately, over a season, stats don’t lie and ours make pretty poor reading.
“Often you have years where one area is not firing but almost every area this year has been pretty poor. We’ve only taken 20 wickets in a game once and, with the bat, Jonathan Trott is averaging over 40 but most of our top order batsmen are in the early-to-mid 20s.
“We are in a state of change. We were able to make some meaningful changes in T20 cricket and it had an effect on our performances because we played some really good cricket during the second half of that tournament. Unfortunately we’ve not been able to exact as much change in the red-ball team and we’ve paid for that with relegation. But over the next six to 12 months we’ll see more change.
Relegation is tough to take but with two of eight teams going down, 25 per cent of the division gets relegated and, at some point, every team will have to take their medicine.Ashley Giles
“We feel the supporters’ frustration. We’ve had a lot of great support which we really appreciate and I hope the supporters understand that we are going through change and that does take time. In cricket you can’t just flick a switch and everything’s alright.”
The rebuilding process has already begun with player-pathway products including Sunny Singh, Matt Lamb, Ed Pollock and Aaron Thomason having excelled at times in the first-team this season while Adam Hose, Dominic Sibley, Ryan Sidebottom and Will Rhodes have been recruited.
“Right now we are hurting badly on the back of relegation,” Giles said. “But there are some encouraging signs for next year. Our team was transformed during the T20 and now we need to do something similar in red-ball cricket.
“We have enjoyed a lot of success in the last few years – second division titles in 2008 and 2009 and major titles in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Relegation is tough to take but with two of eight teams going down, 25 per cent of the division gets relegated and, at some point, every team will have to take their medicine.
“The important thing is how we come back and, whether that’s straight away or not, we have to make sure that, when we do, we are absolutely ready to challenge for that Division One title as Essex have.”