Warwickshire have received a big eve-of-season boost with club captain Jeetan Patel signing an extension to his contract binding him to the club for 2020.
Patel led the Bears to promotion back to the Specsavers County Championship Division One at the first attempt in his first season as skipper last year.
It was a year which saw the squad bounce back emphatically from the disappointment of 2017 – and now the New Zealander will demand that those improvements continue in the new season which begins against Kent at Edgbaston on Thursday.
I would love us to win more trophies – though the most important thing, and people probably get fed up with me saying this, is that overall the club is moving in the right direction. There were some good signs last year but we need to keep improving.Jeetan Patel
Having taken over the Vitality Blast captaincy from the retired Grant Elliott, Patel will captain the team in all formats this year.
He will be busy – but that’s the way he likes it and the Kiwi ace is delighted to have signed an extended deal which will take him past his 40th birthday at Edgbaston.
“I’m really excited to have signed for another year,” he said. “It did take some thought because my family is getting older and busier and it is a big commitment not just for myself but for them as well. But it is a decision we all wanted to take – we love it at Warwickshire.
“The next two seasons will be really exciting for English cricket, with the new competition coming in 2020, and there is a lot more I want to achieve with the Bears. I would love us to win more trophies – though the most important thing, and people probably get fed up with me saying this, is that overall the club is moving in the right direction. There were some good signs last year but we need to keep improving.
“I’m really looking forward to skippering in all three formats. Doing two out of the three last year was a good introduction to the role and Grant did a fantastic job in T20, but now I can really try to put my stamp on things at this great club.”
A fascinating season beckons for the Bears with a squad that is evolving in all departments. Above all, it is a season of opportunity for the younger players – even more so for the batsmen in the early weeks of the season after Ian Bell was ruled out by a toe injury.
“It is a real shame to lose someone of Belly’s class for the first part of the season, not just for what he brings on the field but also off it,” Patel said. “But it means there is another opportunity for someone else. We are in a bit of a transition period and some of the guys really started to show what they can do last season and now they have a fantastic opportunity to carry that on.
“I’m really looking forward to the season. Ashton Agar is a great T20 signing. He’s a wily left-arm spinner and nimble fielder who can hit the ball out of the park and he is a proven winner in the format having won the Big Bash with Perth Scorchers. He will bring real pedigree to the side and I am very excited about the months ahead.”