Graeme Welch is excited about what Warwickshire's bowlers might achieve in the coming years - and believes there is a "really nice blend" to the options across the attack.
Welch had his work well and truly cut out during 2019 as the Bears’ bowling plans were left in tatters by an unprecedented injury-glut.
It peaked in midsummer when, remarkably, every contracted seam-bowler was unavailable, meaning the Bears went into the championship match away to Kent with a seam attack led by loanees Toby Lester, Ben Mike and James Wainman.
When everyone is fit we have got a really strong attack with plenty of proven quality and experience and then young guys like George Garrett, Ethan Banks and George Furrer coming through. It’s a really nice blend.Graeme Welch
It was to their immense credit that the depleted seam-bowling resources, led by Olly Hannon-Dalby’s 44 wickets at 25.66, dug so deep to support skipper Jeetan Patel. And amid all the difficulties, reckons Welch, there was a lot of learning going on that will stand the bowlers in good stead for 2020 and beyond.
“I am really excited about the bowlers we have here,” said Welch. “We were badly hit by injuries last season with three of our main seamers – Olly Stone, Liam Norwell and Ryan Sidebottom – missing almost the whole season, but that meant it was a great learning curve for the rest.
“All being well, those three will be fit and firing next year so it will be like having three new bowlers. When everyone is fit we have got a really strong attack with plenty of proven quality and experience and then young guys like George Garrett, Ethan Banks and George Furrer coming through. It’s a really nice blend.”
Key ingredients in that blend will be Hannon-Dalby, Henry Brookes and Will Rhodes who rose to the challenge last season while the seam-attack was hit by injury after injury.
“Olly was immense,” said Welch. “He made a few technical changes during the winter and worked on a new delivery which probably got him ten wickets during the season. He bowled consistently to a high standard, was completely reliable.
“Henry did really well. He suffered a little bit from second season syndrome and could probably have done with playing fewer games, but we needed him to stick in there because of the injuries and he responded very well. It’s easy to forget that Henry is still only 20 but his body stood up to the demands well and he probably bowled his best of the season in the last two games. He has a really bright future.
“He is now in Australia where he will play club cricket and work with the great Aussie left-armer Bruce Reid, and we think some time out there will be great for him personally and professionally.
“Will Rhodes was the other big plus among the bowlers. At a time when we were decimated by injuries he stepped up and showed that he is a very capable medium-pacer. He took 20 wickets and, with more work, I think he can take 25 to 30 wickets a season which is what you want from a fourth seamer.
“Next year hopefully we will have all the other guys back fit and competing with them. Ryan Sidebottom was our best bowler in the first game last season then was really unlucky to get a freak injury. Olly Stone made his Test debut and we all know what he can do so we have just got to careful with him this winter and get his fitness back up. Liam Norwell is a very exciting cricketer who made a huge impact when he played and there is a lot more to come from him.
“I think there is a lot to come from Craig Miles too. He found the step up to Division One cricket a bit of an eye-opener but he is a very good, attacking bowler. We will work on a few things this winter to try to bring his economy rate down an if we can do that than he will be a real force because he takes wickets.”