Fresh from the glory of lifting the Royal London One-Day Cup at Lord’s on Saturday, Warwickshire return to Specsavers County Championship action at Edgbaston tomorrow with work still to do to secure their Division One status.
The Bears face Lancashire in a final game of the season which brings together two sides still in danger of relegation.
Warwickshire sit one place and eight points above Hampshire who occupy the second relegation spot. Lancashire are just six points better off than the Bears, so could be sucked down if the Bears and Hampshire (who are at home to Durham) both win.
With bonus points permutations, the details may change but the Bears will definitely be safe if they bank nine points more than Hampshire (if the two teams finish level Hampshire will stay up by virtue of fewer defeats).
For Warwickshire to beat Lancashire would settle all doubt, of course, so captain Ian Bell wants his team to carry on the momentum from the brilliant performance against Surrey in London on Saturday.
“We have got a big week coming up because obviously we want to stay in Division One,” the skipper said. “To finish the white-ball season like we did on Saturday was a massive high and now we want to finish well in the championship.
“We enjoyed celebrating the win on Saturday night which was the right thing to do. These days don’t come round very often so you have to enjoy them. It meant a lot to see the younger guys enjoying the occasion and seeing how much it meant to them, while us senior guys don’t know whether we will be there again, so it was right to enjoy it.
“But then from Sunday morning we have been getting our head around how to beat Lancashire.”
The all-round excellence of the Bears’ performance to demolish Surrey in the cup final showed the high quality in the squad – and served to underline the oddity that players of that calibre will enter the last round of championship matches under threat of relegation.
In four-day cricket, it has been far from a season to remember for the Bears. And that situation is one which Bell and director of cricket Dougie Brown intend to address urgently.
“There is not one team we have played this year that I think we are not capable of beating,” the captain said. “That is the frustration and I can feel the frustration from myself, from Dougie, from the members and players.
“In terms of ability and talent in the dressing-room we are as good as anyone in the country. There are no other players that I would want. We have a squad that can win trophies, that’s absolutely not a problem. Just look at Saturday.
“What we need is to reset our goals and where we want to go as a group because in the championship we have not functioned properly often enough. We really need to sit down as a group straight away at the end of the season, go through everything from top to bottom and come out with some answers.
“The temptation is to think ‘right, the season’s finished, now six weeks off’ and people go away and forget a little bit about things and move on. I think that’s a dangerous thing to do because if we come back and do the same things in the winter and the same things next summer we will get the same results.
“The guys will need a break, of course, but we can’t just run away from the facts that the season has been frustrating and that the very good side we are on paper has not lived up to that on the field.”
- Ian Bell (Captain)
- Tim Ambrose (Wicket-Keeper)
- Keith Barker
- Rikki Clarke
- Sam Hain
- Oliver Hannon-Dalby
- Ateeq Javid
- Alex Mellor (Wicket-Keeper)
- Jeetan Patel
- Josh Poysden
- Jonathan Trott
- Chris Wright
- Ian Westwood