2008 County Preview - Warwickshire
The Warwickshire Bears had a very up and down 2007 season. They did not play to their potential in the County Championship Division One and as a result where relegated after finishing in eighth place. Like the four day competition, Warwickshire finished eighth in the Pro 40 League Division Two, which they will have been extremely disappointed about with a strong team. In the Twenty20 Cup, the Bears topped their group comfortably but unfortunately lost to Lancashire in the quarter finals. They also had success in the Friends Provident Trophy, where they finished second in their group but then lost to Hampshire in the semi-finals.
For 2008 they will look to take the positives from the previous season and put together many more consistent performances in all formats of the game. However, Tim Ambrose, who kept wicket for them last year and produced some sensational batting performances is now the current England wicket-keeper on the international stage. His classy batting and good glove work will be missed, so they have offered Tony Frost a contract that has brought him back out of retirement to take the gloves when Ambrose is away on international duty. Young wicket-keeper Richard Johnson may get chances to show his ability on the county stage with Ambrose away, reports say that he is a very talented keeper who has good batting ability. He showed this with 71 against a university side for Warwickshire in a friendly match.
The Bears felt a lack of depth in the bowling department, so have brought in South African pace bowler Monde Zondeki. Allan Donald is the bowling coach at Warwickshire and could help this talented young player regain his place in the South African side. Zondeki has produced some brilliant performances back home in South Africa for the Nashua Cape Cobras and could be a real handful, while Irishman, Boyd Rankin, who stands at 6ft 7, will also bolster the bowling attack. He lacked chances at Derbyshire last year and will look to take on a heavier work load this summer. Ian Salisbury is another signing who, with his experience, will be used as a key spinner to partner Ant Botha.
On the batting front, Warwickshire were fairly strong last year. With Ambrose, Jonathan Trott, Darren Maddy, Jim Troughton and Ian Westwood leading from the front with some healthy scores throughout 2007. The Bears have brought in Sanath Jayasuria as an overseas player for just the Twenty20 competition knowing that his powerful hitting at the top of the order should get his side off to a strong start. Westwood will have to take more responsibility in the batting order with the loss of Ambrose, and he does have the potential to score heavily, as seen in some games in 2007 but needs to score more runs on a regular basis. Along with Westwood, Chris Woakes is an exciting prospect for the Bears and will look to break into the first team on a more regular basis.
Warwickshire definitely have a squad to go all the way and perform well in 2008, but it will be up to some of the more experienced players to score heavily and take wickets, with their talented youngsters blossoming around them.
In: Monde Zondeki, Sanath Jayasuriya,
Boyd Rankin, Ian Salisbury, Richard Johnson,
Calum McLeod, Tony Frost
Out: Heath Streak, Alex Loudon,
Adam Shantry, Michael Barnes,
Vaughn Van Jaarsveld, Ashley Giles
County Championship Division Two: Top 3
Pro40 Division Two: Tope 3
Friends Provident Trophy: Group Stage
Twenty20 Cup: Group Stage
Star Man: Monde Zondeki
Top Tip: Ian Westwood
By Pierce Morley-Barnes