Warwickshire are aiming to add a strike bowler to their armoury for next season as director of cricket Paul Farbrace admits "we lack a cutting edge."
The Bears have won just one of nine LV=Insurance County Championship games this season due not least to their struggle to bowl teams out with their existing strike bowlers injured. Liam Norwell, who took 49 wickets at 18.26 runs apiece in last season’s title triumph, has played just two championship matches and England pair Olly Stone and Chris Woakes none at all.
That has heaped a mighty burden on Olly Hannon-Dalby, who has led the attack manfully as always, and fellow seamers Nathan McAndrew, Craig Miles, Henry Brookes and Will Rhodes.
The process of reinforcing that attack has begun with the signing of Ed Barnard from Worcestershire for next season but further strengthening is a high priority, insists Farbrace.
“You are always looking to develop your squad and we know that this season our bowling hasn’t been good enough,” said the director of cricket.
“This year we have been mostly without Norwell, who got 50-plus first-class wickets last year, Stone, who played the first half of last season and also Tim Bresnan’s knowhow and skill which played such a big part last year. The pitches haven’t been easy for bowlers but, no disrespect to our bowlers at the moment, we lack a cutting edge. That means we are too often trying to stay in games rather than pushing to win them and that’s why we are where we are in the championship.
“We need to sign a strike bowler for next year and ideally we’d like to add another two bowlers to the attack but there aren’t loads out there so we may have to go overseas for an out-and-out fast bowler who can give us that difference.
“Ed Barnard coming in will be a big help because he will balance our attack by batting at six and being our fourth seamer with Rhodesy. That means with Danny Briggs at eight, you can still have three out and out bowlers.
“I think our batting has improved and developed this year but we know our bowling is something we have to improve.”
While Warwickshire’s title defence has stuttered, the Vitality Blast campaign did bring some vibrant performances which saw them top the North Group before crashing out to Hampshire Hawks at the quarter final stage.
“We definitely improved in T20,” said Farbrace. “Our goal was to get nine wins and a home semi-final and we did that but then unfortunately imploded in the quarter final.
“That was hugely frustrating. Hampshire got off to a great start but we dragged it back and it was a target we could have chased down. It was just a shame we didn’t bat with a little bit more nous and calmness but throughout the tournament, when we were brilliant we were brilliant and when we were poor we were poor. We imploded a couple of times and that’s a lesson to learn.
“The challenge next year is can we cope with the pressure of knockout games and produce those brilliant performances when we really need them?”
Among the decisions to be made is whether Carlos Brathwaite, who captained the side this year, will return.
“We haven’t started that conversation yet,” said Farbrace. “We’ll let the dust settle on this campaign and look at what we need next year. Carlos did a very good job and now we need to think, is he the man to take us forward again next year and does he provide what we need both as a captain and an overseas player?”