Warwickshire face "two tough games and great tests" at Edgbaston when they launch their defence of the LV= Insurance County Championship title against Surrey and Essex, says First Team Coach Mark Robinson.

The Bears will open their title defence at home to Surrey on Thursday 7 April then, after sitting out the second round, face Essex on Thursday 21 April.

Away games against Somerset and Lancashire then follow to give Warwickshire a quartet of opening games against teams who will start the season as genuine contenders to seize their title.

“It’s back to two divisions and we know historically how tough two-division cricket is,” said Robinson. “There will be no weak teams in the First Division and historically a lot of teams have won the championship and really come a cropper the next year.

“Surrey will be a great challenge for us. They will arrive potentially with a lot of England players, and we know that with everything that’s happened this winter there will be a lot of scrutiny on county cricket and potentially a lot of placed for England selection up for grabs. It’s a great time to be a young player trying to forge a career at the moment with so many opportunities.

“A good start to the season sets you up, we know that from last year. After the rain-affected game against Derbyshire, we beat Notts and then Essex, who had won the championship the two previous years, and that gave everybody a lot of belief and set us up for the season.

Mark Robinson

“But this year they will be wanting revenge and Surrey and Essex are two tough games and great tests to look forward to right at the start.

“We’ve got a week off between those games in the second round which, if you are purely selfish, you wouldn’t have – ideally you want to get four games in and then have a week off to allow people to recover. But the fixtures are what they are and our job as coaches and a team is to adapt and cope with everything that is thrown at you in county cricket.”

After the opening block of six championship games, the Bears’ attention will turn to the Vitality Blast in late May, starting at home to Northants Steelbacks on Thursday 26 May.

Their 2022 Royal London Cup campaign will begin against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham on Tuesday 2 August. That is the first of eight group games which will see them break new ground when they face Middlesex at Radlett on Friday 19 August.

The season will conclude with a championship match at home to Hampshire finishing on Monday 29 September, the end of a campaign which will unfold amid high scrutiny following England’s rout in the Ashes.

“When England do well, the domestic game never gets the credit,” said Robinson. “But equally, when we have done as badly as we have this winter, the whole game needs looking at and everybody who is part of this great game has to look to how we can do things better and bridge that gap.

“There is a challenge with scheduling four competitions in a relatively short summer, and a challenge trying to get players to play all formats and change their techniques quickly and understand what is needed. But there are a lot of great people in county cricket and it has produced a lot of fine players over the years and a lot of Ashes wins and taken England to number one in the world, so it has got a lot of good about it.”   

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