Next up in the Greatest Ever series we turn the spotlight on the modern era with the search for the Bears' Greatest T20 Player.
Since the format arrived in county cricket in 2003, many fine players have pulled on the Bears shirt in the Blast.
Selecting five for the short-list was a mighty tough ask with the likes of Jonathan Trott, Rikki Clarke, Sam Hain and Brendon McCullum – men you would always want in your T20 side – narrowly missing out.
Here are the esteemed five who made the cut. Please join in with the series that has got Bears fans, players and ex-players around the world talking – and cast your vote…
58 matches: 1,310 runs (27.29), 30 wickets (19.03), 19 catches
Twenty20 cricket has evolved a long way since arriving in county cricket in 2003. Many players have just been catching up with Darren Maddy (pictured above).
Mads was known as “Mr Twenty20” and, while that should never imply that he was not a very fine player in the other formats, he was a brilliant, match-shaping force in the shortest. His stats for the Bears are highly impressive – and would have been even more so but for his misfortune with injuries towards the end of his great career.
Mads relished the ever-present pressure of T20 cricket. His clever medium-pace bowling was an effective weapon, as shown by his wickets arriving at 19 runs apiece. His batting was often match-winning and could be breathtaking with elegant strokes and skilful manipulation of the ball into gaps combined with an ability to clear the ropes.
A T20 player, a cricketer and a man you would always want on your side.
91 matches: 1,386 runs (16.50), 81 wickets (26.65), 16 catches
Neil Carter was a T20 pioneer. A dangerous left-arm swing-bowler he was a vital component of the Bears’ bowling attack but it was as a batsman in the short format that he broke the mould. If the first ball of the match was there to be hit, he hit it – a long way.
In the early days of T20, some people were a bit sniffy about Carts. “He’s just a slogger.” They were the ones out of tune. Now every team has a least one, and probably several, batsmen that sing to Carts’ tune.
Even his tiny
cameos shaped matches. If Carts was back in the hutch by the third over, his 20
from eight balls had given the innings impetus, heaped pressure on the bowlers
and sometimes already forced the opposition to change their plan.
Carts hit 63 sixes for the Bears in T20 and, considering his ultra-aggressive approach, very rarely failed completely. With bat and ball, a T20 powerhouse.
78 matches: 2,111 runs (31.50), 3 wickets (62.00), 29 catches
A class batsman is a class batsman whatever the format or match situation, so it is no surprise that Ian Bell is the leading run-scorer for the Bears in T20 cricket.
England commitments restricted his input to his beloved Bears for many seasons but, a regular in the side of late, he has overtaken Jonathan Trott to move top of the list. The only player to top 2,000 T20 runs for the Bears, Belly has scored one century and passed 50 on 15 other occasions.
Watching him bat is a reminder that, while T20 batting has a lot to do with power, it is not all about power.
Belly has his share of power (though even his sixes tend to be gracefully caressed over the ropes) but is vivid proof that you can also score very rapidly by virtue of sweet timing and skilful placement. Class is permanent.
130 matches: 214 runs (7.37), 135 wickets (23.78), 44 catches
Twenty20 is a batsman’s game. Bowling in it is always a battle. If you have in your team a bowler who loves that battle and has the bottle and skills to take it back to the batsmen then you are very fortunate. Jeetan Patel is such a player.
When teams plan for a game against the Bears, the very first question they ask is: ‘How do we deal with Jeeetan Patel?’
They know his accurate, aggressive, steel-nerved off-spin in the middle overs will give them a real dilemma. Do we take care and see out those overs, in which case the scoring-rate flags, or do we attack, in which case, the wicket-column might quickly become a bit of a worry.
Jeets is the Bears’ highest T20 wicket-taker with 135 – more than 50 clear of anyone else. And those immense bowling skills come with the temperament of the ultimate competitor. Jeets is a warrior.
74 matches: 579 runs (26.31), 75 wickets (25.00), 28 catches
Chris Woakes’ T20 debut for the Bears, against Glamorgan in Cardiff in 2008, didn’t amount to much. He scored two not out in the Bears’ 140 for seven and then it rained.
Three days later, against Somerset at Taunton, he delivered 3.5-0-21-4 and since then, whenever available, he’s been pretty much first name on the team-sheet.
As befits a World Cup winner in the 50-over format, Woakesey can win a match with bat or ball. Crucially, in the T20 format where pressure is ever-pres ent, he handles pressure brilliantly.
Certain moments in a great club’s history pass into legend. Right up there with those for the Bears is the last over of the Blast final at Edgbaston in 2014.
Freddie Flintoff is at the crease for Lancashire. 14 to win. Is there anyone in the world you’d rather have bowling your last over? Woakesy closed it out, the roof went off Edgbaston and his beloved Bears were T20 champs for the first time.
Cast your vote
To vote for Warwickshire’s Greatest All Rounder, simply complete the below form. Everyone who submits their vote will be entered into a prize draw to win a signed Warwickshire shirt.
Voting closes at 5pm on Tuesday 2 June and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.