Ian Bell is looking forward to a “big knock-out occasion” at Edgbaston next Wednesday when Warwickshire face Essex in a Royal London Cup quarter-final.

And the captain would love the Bears fans to be out in force to help their team move a step closer to rounding off their limited-overs season with a Lord’s final on September 17.

Next Wednesday’s duel promises a great atmosphere at Edgbaston, with the incentive of another one to follow if the Bears can defeat Ravi Bopara’s side. The semi-final draw has already been made with the winners of Warwickshire v Essex drawn to host the winners of Somerset v Worcestershire.

The prospect of a Warwickshire v Worcestershire semi-final clash will have eluded nobody in West Midlands cricket.

But neither side will be giving it more than a passing thought for now. They know that if you take your eye of the ball in the quarter-final, that’s as far as you get.

Warwickshire clinched their quarter-final place with an excellent all-round performance against Yorkshire at Headingley in the last group game. And Bell knows that nothing less will do the job against Essex.

“It’s great to get to the knockout stage of the competition and next Wednesday’s game is a really exciting prospect,” the captain said. “I’m sure there will be a good crowd in the ground to cheer us on and that will really help us.

“There is a lot of excitement around Twenty20 these days and rightly so, but I think 50-overs is still a great format. Back in the ’90s it was going to the 40 and 50-over games at Edgbaston and seeing some of those great matches that first really turned me on to cricket.

“For me, in domestic cricket, to play in a Lord’s final is as good as it gets. I’ve been lucky enough to do it but I want to do it again and again and I want the younger guys coming through at Warwickshire now to have that unique experience.

“But we have got a lot of hard work still to do to get there, starting against Essex. They are a very strong side with players who can turn matches.

“We will need to be at our best next Wednesday, that’s for sure, and to have a big crowd behind us will be great.”


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