55 days later there would be further agony.

After topping the group in emphatic style, the Bears fell short in a knock-out match played in front of their fans. Heartbreak.

On 6 July 2023, it was Essex who spoiled the party, sneaking home in a game they were once cruising. Less than two months later, Liam Dawson shone with the ball, as Warwickshire’s hopes of a 13th List A trophy were dashed.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s the opposite.

With the tournament played in the heat of the summer, and players jettisoning off to The Hundred, a proud group of Bears – young and old – came together and showcased not only the present but the future.

Ed Barnard would be the star, securing the MVP of the competition in a new role.

Opening the batting, Barnard struck his maiden List A century with a classy 161 against Durham in his side’s penultimate group game. He then reached three figures again the very next match as his score of 100 proved vital in the Bears’ nail-biting victory over Sussex.

He also scored three fifties during the tournament, finishing with an average of 77, whilst his wickets came at 24.63 runs apiece, with his best figures being 3-14 against his former team, Worcestershire.

Not too far behind him was Olly Hannon-Dalby, picking up 24 scalps as the experienced seamer in the group.

But the encouraging thing, and the one to take forward, was the progression of the cubs.

Hamza Shaikh and Kai Smith both showed incredible shot-making ability and poise throughout the campaign, while young leg-spinner Tazeem Ali took a wicket on debut.

“I loved the 50-over competition,” said Hannon-Dalby. “With the young lads playing, visiting outgrounds, I thought it was brilliant.

“To see Hamza, Kai bat like we know he can, Taz take a wicket on debut, hopefully, they’ll continue to flourish and win lots of trophies for the Bears.

Sam Hain added, “We had a good blend of youth and experience and allowing those younger guys to flourish in men’s First Team cricket can only benefit them.

“I was quite lucky when I was 18 and 19, I was blessed with a lot of experience around me and that only benefitted me and my game. I now feel it’s my duty, and for the other senior players, to help do the same.”

As well as the wins, the other standout highlight was the new grounds and the fantastic support the team received. With trips to Neath and Sussex especially, the Bears felt plenty of comfort on the road.

“You see the Members flock in and the crowds at Edgbaston were amazing,” said Barnard.

Rob Yates concluded, “It amazed me every time that no matter how far away you are, the Bears fans were always there. You would hear a ‘You Bears’ chant and look over and see flag after flag. It was great to see.”

Click here to watch the first episode based on the County Championship and the second to view the Vitality Blast. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more videos from the Bears.

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