So tomorrow is the big day. After months of planning and preparation, we finally get another domestic season started with a trip to Surrey in the Specsavers County Championship.
As you would expect, the lads are hugely excited about what lies ahead over the next six months. We feel we have a strong squad and now it’s a case of executing our skills and delivering when we need to, starting at The Oval tomorrow.
It’s hard to predict what will happen and who will finish where in the Championship this season.
Reducing the top division to eight teams and with two facing relegation, it’s going to be hugely competitive and we will be doing everything possible to get the early momentum which is so important in the County Championship.
There is always a lot of discussion about the merits of four-day cricket in the modern game but I’m 100 per cent convinced it still has a very important part to play.
While T20 is a great spectacle and exciting for both spectators and players alike, Test cricket – and particularly The Ashes – remains the ultimate for any English cricketer.
For us to be successful in that arena, we need a strong domestic platform for the longer format of the game and I believe the County Championship provides that. As far as I’m concerned, long may it continue.
Our preparations for this season concluded with a three-day First Class game against Oxford MCCU on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
It ended in a draw with the students 62-6 in their second innings, chasing over 300, and it was the ideal build-up for tomorrow.
I wanted the lads to go into the Oxford game with maximum intensity. That’s exactly what we got and there were some excellent individual performances over the three days.
Jonathan Trott led the way with the bat with a century and Sam Hain, Alex Mellor and William Porterfield were all amongst the runs which bodes well.
As a unit, I thought the bowlers were very good but I must make mention of our young spinner Sunny Singh.
It was great to give Sunny a chance at The Parks but even more pleasing that he took it with both hands. He deserved his first four First Class wickets and is a hugely promising your cricketer who, along with Jeetan Patel and Josh Poysden, offers us great spinning options.
I couldn’t end this week’s column without mentioning the contract extension which was announced yesterday.
It will keep me with Warwickshire until 2020 and I couldn’t be happier to have extended my commitment to a club which has been such a big part of my life.
I wouldn’t have had the career I have without the input of so many people at Edgbaston and I’m desperately hoping to give something back now in my position as captain.
I will be 38 by the time this contract comes to an end and I have aspirations, all things being equal, of playing into my 40s so hopefully this won’t be my last contract.
But it’s fantastic to know I will spend my next four seasons at the club I love and hopefully we can enjoy plenty of success in that time.