Warwickshire sport director Ashley Giles admits that “this is when the challenge really starts” for the club’s new management and coaching regime.
Two days away from the start of the Specsavers County Championship season, all the Bears’ thoughts now turn to their opening match against Surrey at The Oval starting on Friday.
The new era under Giles and first-team coach Jim Troughton will begin in earnest. And the sport director knows that, for all the diligent planning and preparation put in by management and players over recent months, it will be results over the coming months on which they are mainly judged.
“It’s been easy so far because we are still unbeaten!” said Giles. “This is the difficult part because now we are at the stage where we are thinking about who gets in the team and the players’ form and futures.
“All those things start coming into play and you win games and lose games along the way and have to deal with that. This is when the challenge really starts for Jim and all the coaches and for me because we have to make sure we continue to drive towards improvement in all areas and, in the short term, winning games of cricket.”
If we play our best cricket, our red-ball cricket is probably our strongest with the depth of experience in our term. But then the team started last year with the same sort of thoughts and came away with the Royal London One-Day Cup at the end of the year. .Ashley Giles
The ambition is very much to win games of cricket in all three formats. Warwickshire is the only county to have won all three competitions in the last five years and they intend to challenge hard in all again in 2017.
“It is important that a club of our size competes across all three,” Giles said. “That is becoming increasingly difficult but it is our objective to do that. We have showed in the past that we are probably more capable than any other side in the country of competing across them all, given that we are the only side to have won all three in the last five years.
“I think, if we play our best cricket, our red-ball cricket is probably our strongest with the depth of experience in our term. But then the team started last year with the same sort of thoughts and came away with the Royal London One-Day Cup at the end of the year. A lot of people wouldn’t have had us down as favourites for that competition but the guys played brilliantly. “
It will all get underway at The Oval at 11am on Friday. The uniquely complex, gruelling and fluctuating plot that is a county cricket season will then unfold over 174 days and the first chapter of this Bears regime will be written.
And while first-team coach Troughton will be most ‘hands on’ throughout the season, the experience of Giles will also be influential.
“My role is broad and I will be in a suit quite a lot,” he said. “But I will also be on the ground quite a lot and we have looked at the schedule to see where I can slot into four-day cricket and one-day and women’s cricket and look at some of the pathway and recruitment.
“But the sharp end for us is for the first team to be winning games of cricket and we have got a relatively inexperienced coaching set-up so I need to be there to support them at times.”