Graeme Welch says Warwickshire's bowlers are "keen as mustard" to at last get the competitive season underway, when the Bears open their Bob Willis Trophy campaign at home to Northamptonshire on Saturday.

The big question is which bowlers will be involved as the Bears’ impressive armoury of seamers all ended this week’s friendlies fit and in competition for a place in the XI against Northants.

The wickets in the friendly against Worcestershire yesterday were shared among seven bowlers as the group enjoyed a good workout in their last day of pre-season match practice. Now it remains to be seen who gets the nod on Saturday.

“The lads have been really excited over the last few days and are keen as mustard to get the ball in the hand in competitive cricket,” said bowling coach Welch.

“We are quietly optimistic going into the season. All the batters seem to be playing well and the bowlers are vying for two or three spots which bodes well for the future.

Graeme Welch

“It’s really nice to have all the bowlers fit and healthy, a far cry from last season. If anything, against Worcestershire, they were trying a little bit too hard but the first game is coming up in and they are all trying to get in that team. They got better as the day wore on.

“We have got six, seven, eight seamers who could all play against Northamptonshire, so it’s going to be a shootout, but that’s a good position to be in.”

The warm-up games and training over recent weeks have been very different to usual, of course, in the light of all the guidance which has had to be followed regarding COVID-19.

“The players have been exceptional the way they have handled social distancing and using the hand gels and everything,” Welch said.

“On the field we have had to decide who stands where and we decided the bowler who has just bowled should stand at mid-off as he has sweat on him to shine the ball. So we have come up with a bit of a method and all round the guys have been superb.”