Warwickshire face Surrey in the Specsavers County Championship at Edgbaston tomorrow at the start of a crucial “five-game mini-season,” says captain Ian Bell.

The Bears’ bid for championship glory was damaged by defeat in Yorkshire last week but they remain very much in the race for prize-money places – and the title itself.

With five games left, they trail leaders Middlesex by 21 points but still have Middlesex, as well as second-placed Somerset and fourth-placed Durham, to play.

The defeat to Yorkshire has left Bell’s side with no further margin for error if they are to take the title. But if the Bears blow hot over the last six weeks of the season they can challenge hard to bring the championship back to Edgbaston.

Bell knows they need to deliver their ‘A-game’ – which they have not done consistently enough this season, tomorrow’s opponents Surrey being the only side to be on the receiving end of it in the championship so far.

“In the Surrey game at Guildford we played our A game,” said the skipper. “We put in a really good all-round performance there and we have got to replicate that. We haven’t done that anywhere near often enough last season. That is the only game in the championship where all departments of the side have really clicked.

“Last week’s defeat against Yorkshire was very disappointing, but the table is still really tight and we can still finish very high if we play our best cricket from now on. We have five games left and are looking at them as a mini-season. If we can get good results in a lot of those games, we’ll see where that takes us.

“Surrey are a good side who badly need a win so it will be a tough game. But we have got to do what good sides do after a defeat – bounce straight back.”

Surrey will arrive having recently climbed out of the relegation zone but still under pressure having played more games than any other side in Division One. They welcome back West Indies fast-bowler Ravi Rampaul and Sri Lankan batting great (and former Bear) Kumar Sangakkarra from Caribbean Premier League duty.

Warwickshire Squad

  • Ian Bell (Captain)
  • Tim Ambrose (Wicket Keeper)
  • Keith Barker
  • Varun Chopra
  • Rikki Clarke
  • Laurie Evans
  • Oliver Hannon-Dalby
  • Ateeq Javid
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Jonathan Trott
  • Ian Westwood
  • Chris Wright

Sam Hain and Boyd Rankin are unavailable for selection due to injury.