Will Rhodes says it is a "massive goal" for Warwickshire to finish in the top two of their LV= Insurance County Championship group so they resume the red ball season later on still with a chance of bringing the title to Edgbaston.

The Bears open their campaign at home to Derbyshire on April 8th in a championship group which will also pit them against Nottinghamshire, Essex, Worcestershire and Durham.

The top two will advance to play the top two teams from the other two groups while the third and fourth-placed teams, and the fifth and sixth-placed, meet their corresponding sides.

There is no doubt where skipper Rhodes and his squad, driven by first team coach Mark Robinson and director of cricket Paul Farbrace, want to be.

“Everything we have spoken about as a squad in the last few weeks has been about getting into that top two,” he said. “That is a massive goal for us. We are in a very tough group but want to get into that top two and believe we have the squad to do it.

“We have got two winners driving us on in Farby and Robbo. They are looking to win again and I think that is starting to rub off on the squad. It would be amazing to win a trophy this year and have something to show for all hard yards that the guys have out in this winter. But winning a trophy doesn’t come easy. You don’t just click your fingers, you have got to sustain a very high level performance.

Will Rhodes

“By the middle of June, you have an idea of what you might be in the hunt for and it would be great for us to get deep in the season still in the hunt for all three.”

A strong start to the championship season would be a real statement of intent from the Bears and, while Chris Woakes is away in the IPL, they expect some input from England pair Dom Sibley and Olly Stone.

“Hopefully we will have Sibs and Stone available for some games ,” said Rhodes.

“We could have a few tough selections decisions to make. Everyone knows that Sibs and Stoney will come into the side, that is a no-brainer when they are as good as they are, but beyond that there is room for people to force their way in.

“If you are fit and firing, and go well in pre-season, then you are certainly in the mix. We have been pretty disappointing in red ball cricket for a couple of years so hopefully we can get a couple of early wins on the board and build from there.”