Nathan McAndrew has loved his first foray into county cricket with Warwickshire but still insists: "I was sold a lie!"
When Aussie seam-bowling all-rounder McAndrew joined the Bears, he was excited by the opportunity and encouraged to hear how early-season pitches, no doubt with rain around, would be sure to offer bowlers plenty of help.
An English early-season is a good time to be a seamer, everybody said. McAndrew then landed into a dry, warm springtime to find a succession of unusually firm and batsman-friendly pitches.
“I was sold a lie!” he said. “All the things I’d heard about the ball nipping around everywhere and swinging – they didn’t happen!
“The boys have said they’ve also changed the balls this year and it’s been very different. There hasn’t been much rain either so wickets have been flatter from that, so it’s been a tough one to come into.
“Early on I was having to adapt and struggling with my rhythm a little bit because with the visa issues I had I was quite underdone when I came over. I hadn’t bowled in six weeks then straight away played four four-day games in four weeks which is probably not a recipe for success.
“But I think I have got better. I feel that I’ve adapted to the conditions and come to understand what fields I need, whether its swinging or whether I’m just going to go wobble seams and bring the stumps into play.”
Understandably, McAndrew took time to settle on the field but he has thoroughly enjoyed the experience, despite the uniquely heavy demands of county cricket.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” he said. “I now fully understand the term ‘the county grind.’ The scheduling is insane.
“The gap that we get between games back home feels like a holiday compared to the gaps over here…and I haven’t even been playing T20. For guys who yoyo between formats, it’s unbelievable. The schedule is so relentless I don’t know whether it would be possible as a fast bowler and I imagine for the batters it’s tough because if you’re out of form there’s no time to work on stuff, you’re always straight into the next game.
“I think the standards in England and Australia are the same, it’s just a hell of a lot harder over here with the schedule. I know there’s some chat about changing that which would be very beneficial because you want your bowlers at their best and at the moment bowlers are just limping into games.
“If you want the best standard of cricket you need bowlers fresh and able to really attack the game. Then the gap between county and Test cricket won’t be as big because batters are used to bowlers who are bowling three or four miles an hour faster because they are fresh.
“I certainly don’t think there’s a lack of talent over here. There’s a lot of talent, that was obvious from watching the Blast, it’s just the schedule. It’s not sustainable if you are talking about trying to get the best standards as a breeding ground for Test cricket.”
McAndrew’s stint with the Bears will end after next week’s championship game away to Surrey as his Australian season will be nigh when the championship campaign in England resumes after the Hundred. But he would relish a return to Edgbaston at some point.
“I have loved it at Warwickshire,” he said. “It’s such a great club with great people. I’d absolutely love to come back and do it properly with a bit of time between seasons to prepare well.”