Director of Cricket Paul Farbrace believes Warwickshire's players must enjoy the pressures that come with defending the LV= Insurance County Championship title.

The Bears will launch their title defence, against Surrey at Edgbaston, on April 7 after lifting the trophy in sensational fashion in the very last session of the 2021 season.

It was a triumph that only the most astute of experts saw coming (though Bears Club Journalist Brian Halford did predict, on April 7, that, “in my very humble opinion, I think Warwickshire will win a trophy this year”).

In a thrilling conclusion to the season, however, the Bears powered through to see off the challenge of Hampshire and Lancashire and take the crown. Now with that glory comes the pressure of improving again – against opponents who are desperate to knock that crown off.

“We know it’s going to be hard and that we will have to play very well to be anywhere near the top of the table again,” Farbrace said. “To win the championship, and to start this season with a championship title to defend, is brilliant for the club and that brings pressure, but it’s good pressure.

“We should enjoy the pressures of being a team that everybody else wants to play and beat. That’s when you know you are playing well, well you are seen as a target. You know you’ve got a good team and support staff when the opposition turn up wanting to test themselves against you and see where they’re at in comparison.

“In the last few years there have been clubs that that we’ve wanted to play and measure ourselves against. But even when you do that, you always want to compete with them and not just say ‘oh, well, we pushed them closer’ but beat them.

Paul Farbrace

“Last year we achieved that by beating the likes of Essex, Nottinghamshire and Somerset, the best sides in the country.”

As satisfying as anything for the Bears last year was the sense that the County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy double triumph was secured by a squad with plenty more growth still ahead, collectively and individually.

“I don’t like talking about squads being in transition or developing,” Farbrace said. “Of course, squads evolve and senior players come and go, but we want to develop our players while we are also winning games and trophies.

“That has to be our goal. The pressure of challenging for success is one we should never shy away from. Let’s enjoy the pressure of being that team everyone else wants to beat. All the indications from last year are that we have a crop of players here under Will Rhodes that really do relish that pressure and respond to it.”

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