By Brian Halford
Warwickshire are approaching the new season with “a lot of selection headaches” – and very welcome ones – according to bowling coach Alan Richardson.
There are just six days to go before the Bears begin their Specsavers County Championship Division One campaign against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
With a fully-fit squad and all their international players available, some tricky decisions will have to be made when the 11 is finally selected for next Sunday, most of all in a seam-bowling department boasting the likes of Rikki Clarke, Chris Woakes, Keith Barker, Chris Wright, Boyd Rankin, Olly Hannon-Dalby and Richard Jones.
There won’t be room for all those seamers alongside overseas spinner Jeetan Patel, who will arrive from New Zealand today. So difficult decisions will have to be made.
“There are a lot of selection headaches which are great to have,” Richardson said. “To have everyone fit and firing is a real plus and gives the guys a lot of competition.
“The boys have worked hard during the winter and quite a few have been away. Olly and Richard have been working at the ICC Academy in Dubai, Boyd has been back in the Ireland camp and Woakesy with England so we have some guys coming into the season on a bit of a run.
“Rikki bowled really well for the MCC in the champion county game in Dubai and we have Keith and Wrighty in the mix so that’s a very strong unit which is what you need to get you through the season. “
With everybody available, some senior players will have to be left out in both batting and bowling departments next Sunday. But there is little doubt that, with the squad sure to be affected by injuries and international call-ups during the months ahead, all will get their chance at some point.
“We want to compete on all three fronts and to do that you need that strength in depth,” Richardson said. “We always want to be in contention in all three competitions come August, so if you have got guys still fit and firing then you have a real chance.
“With the bowlers we don’t have an official rotation policy but we have guys potentially stronger in some formats than others, so to be able to keep them fresh and firing is great. When Glamorgan came to Edgbaston last year in the 50-over comp we had Wright, Barker, Jones and Rankin all warmed up but not playing and one of their guys came over and said ‘this is a bit scary.’ It us great for us to be in that position.”