Warwickshire’s Half Term Report

As we approach the end of June we are pretty much halfway through the season and halfway through all three domestic compettitions. So it seems appropriate at this stage to assess how the Bears have done so far this season and to decide what we can expect to have achieved in each competition by the end of the season!

Six of the best young Master Bear!

So here I present Warwickshire’s Half Term Report:

Subject: T20 Cup

Performance in the T20 has been disappointing so far. A couple of early wins followed by a seven game run that reads W 1 L5 NR 1. Two of those games seemed certain victories but they were thrown away. The last T20 game at Edgbaston against Lancs has been described by many fans as the worst Bears performance they have ever seen.

So where can we hope to go from here?

Qualification for the quarter finals will probably go down to the wire in the Bears group. 4 teams going through from a league of 9 means a lot of teams are in with a sniff of a chance right down to the last round of matches!

I can see us being in with a chance of qualifying right up until the end but sadly I think we will fail to qualify for the quarters for only the second time in the competitions history!

Hopefully the Bears prove me wrong!

Subject: CB40

40 over cricket has been the Bears specialist subject over the last couple of years – winning Div 2 of the Pro40 in 2009 and the CB40 last year!

This year’s CB40 campaign has not gone all the Bears way with some great batting performances going hand in hand with some very poor bowling performances.

The CB40 group stage is very unforgiving. As there are no quarter finals there are only 4 semi final places up for grabs. The winner of each group goes through – as does the best runner up out of the 3 groups.

Warkwickshire are currently third in Group B behind Surrey and Northants! The Bears have also played a game more than both those teams.

It is looking like the Bears will need to win all of their 6 remaining games to qualify – and that includes home and away fixtures against group leaders Surrey!

So what can we expect?

I am sorry to say that I am once again not confidant of us getting out of the group stages of this competition either! But who knows we may just get second and if we do it will be down to the results in the other tables to see if we go through . . . .

Subject: The County Championship

It is in the area of 4 day cricket that Warwickshire have made the most progress so far this season!

Having been prime relegation candidates for most of last season the Bears just about managed to stay up.

This season has been much more positive so far.

They have done the double over Worcestershire and Somerset – and beat Notts at Trent Bridge too!

Despite some early season talk that we could win the Championship two defeats to Durham and a loss to Lancashire have brought the Bears back down to earth a little!

So where will we be in the County Championship by the end of the season?

I believe that Warwickshire should be aiming to finish third – the ‘best of the rest’ as it were – behind Lancs and Durham. And who knows if one of those teams falters we could even finish second.

Third would be an admirable achievement considering last years 6th place finish and our 8pt penalty for the pitch against Worcestershire. It would represent real progress and could help us attract some of the top class players that we are often being reported as trying to sign – such as Leicestershire’s James Taylor!

Targets for the rest of the term:

Ensure that third place in the County Championship is secured.

If qualification into the knockout phase of either the T20 or CB40 is achieved it would be a bonus!

Apologies in advance if any of my fellow Bears feel I am not being gung ho enough regarding the Bears prospects for the rest of the season. I have tried to look at things realistically for a change!

Of course, I secretly still hope that we win every game between now and the end of the season and complete the treble!

Cmon You Bears!

Mark

Twenty20 Cup: Is this our year?

So, here we are again, about to embark on our campaign to win our first ever Twenty20 Cup. The finals day is at Edgbaston this year so that give us even more incentive to get past that tricky quarter-final hurdle!

Twenty20 Cup: Is this our year?

The competition begins on June 1st with a repeat of last years final – Somerset v Hampshire. The Bears first game will be a tough one against Durham Dynamos at Chester-le-Street on Thursday.

It is a good chance for us to wipe the slate clean and forget the disappointments of the Championship defeats against Lancashire and Durham (twice), and our precarious position in the CB40 table after narrow loses to Hampshire and Northants!

Neil Carter and Ant Botha are possibly returning from injury for the first game – so thats great news to start the campaign with!

My XI (assuming Woakes not fit) would be:

Chopra
Carter
Porterfield
Troughton
Barker
Maddy
Clarke
Ambrose
Botha
Patel
Piolet

So how do my fellow Bears think we will do?

What should our first XI for T20 cricket be?

And who will be our star performers this year?

Over to you . . . .

Mark

Jonathan Trott – Legend in the making?

Today’s play at the First Test between England and Sri Lanka was dominated by 2 Warwickshire batsmen – Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell.  Trott completed the second double hundred of his test career and Bell is only 2 runs away from completing his 13th test century.  So firstly, I would like to congratulate them both for the fine form they have shown with England last winter and now into a new summer in England – well done lads!

Jonathan Trott celebrates his 200 against Sri Lanka at Cardiff

Ian Bell was pin-pointed by followers of the game from an early age as a potential England star – and he made his test debut at The Oval in 2004 aged just 22.  Jonathan Trott also made his test debut at The Oval  – in 2009 – but this was at the much less tender age of 28.

Since Trott’s magnificent debut against Australia I have followed his test career through its high and highs with particular interest.  Mostly this is because he is a Bear of course, but also because a few months before he made his debut I told my boss – who likes his cricket but is from Wigan and knows little of the affairs of the Bears – that Trott should be playing for England.  He was, of course, suitably impressed by my punditry when Trott was not only selected to play for England but scored a second innings century that helped England regain the Ashes!

So well done Trott, I thought, you have managed to make me look like I know what I am talking about and have earned yourself an extended run in the England side.

However, I will be the first to hold my hand up and say, that if someone had told me that 21 months after making his debut, Trott would have:

1) Scored 6 centuries

2) Turned 2 of them into double hundreds

3)  The second highest career test average of all time

Then im afraid I would have not believed them!

A test average of 66.77 – second only to Sir Donald Bradman FFS !

Incredible, Amazing, Marvellous – words fail me . . . . .

But the most shocking part of Trott’s rise to test success is that it very nearly never happened.  For let us make no bones about it, Trott was 28 years and 3 months old when he made his test debut,  and if the oppoturnity had not arose when it did – if he was injured or other players were fit and in form themselves – he may never have played test cricket at all.  He did not have many years left before he would surely have been over-looked for the next generation no matter how many runs he scored!

That is how close us Warwickshire supporters and Jonathan Trott fans came to only believing that Trott could have been a good test batsmen – and not actually finding out that he is a great test batsmen.

Great? Is that not too strong a word? No.  If Trott carries on accumulating test runs the way he has done for the past two years he will finish with an average that no one will be able to ignore or dismiss.  He may not end up in second place – but no English batsmen who has played test cricket since 1970 has ended his career with an average above 50.  And that goal is well within Trott’s sights!

So keep on grinding, keep on fighting and keep on digging in Trotty!

You are digging yourself a deep and secure place in the annals of test cricket history!

Mark

Keith Barker deserves our applause . . . and that of the Durham players too!

Just a quick post to say congratualations to Keith Hubert Douglas Barker (sorry Keith blame cricinfo) on his maiden first class hundred against Durham at Edgbaston on Friday!

Lets hope that this signals the beginning of a regular run in the first team for LVCC games.

The occaision of Barker’s maiden first class hundred was a high point for him of course, but it was a low point for the reputation of the good sportsmanship of the players of Durham County Cricket Club.  When he reached his milestone the only Durham player to applaud was the Barbadian Ruel Braithwaite.

Keith Barker on his way to his maiden first class century!

What was the explanation for this collective lack of recognition for a massive landmark in Barker’s career? (Whose previous first class best was only 31.)  Well, there are probably two explanations.  Clearly they were disappointed at getting held up in their pursuit of victory by a lower order batsmen of little reknown outside of the West Midlands.  But more likely the reason was that Barker was playing only the last two days of the game – brought in as a sub to replace William Porterfield who had left to fulfil his international duties with Ireland.  The Durham coach Geoff Cook had been criticising the rules which allowed this substitution to take place before the match had even begun.  And now one of those subs was possibly denying his team an admittedly deserved victory – after they had been held up for most of day 3 by the rain.

It is understandable that the Durham players were annoyed and frustrated, but not to applaud an excellent century – and a maiden one at that – is a very poor show indeed!  Shame on you Durham CCC!

So well done Keith, many more to come I trust.  Also, well done Braithwaite for demonstrating that the spirit of the game is alive and well in the Caribbean – if not in the north-east of England!

Mark

Seven wickets left and every reason to fight until the bitter end!

At the end of today’s play against Durham the Bears are facing defeat squarely in the face.  Barring a miracle or a tropical storm Durham will beat Warwickshire by an innings and plenty at some point tomorrow – most likely between lunch and tea.  (A mere snack for the Durham bowlers in-between meals.)

I wrote a lengthy post in this blog a while back (after the disasterous collapse in the second innings against Lancs) about how, amid wickets tumbling and near certain defeat, players need to focus on their own personal goals and acheivements even though the team effort is doomed to failure. 

So, given that all realistic hope of avoiding defeat is lost, what reason is there for the Warwickshire batsmen to even ‘turn up’ in the sporting sense, tomorrow.

Well, we have seven wickets left, so here are seven reasons why the batsmen should fight to the bitter end of this game no matter what the result of the match may be!

1.  Durham are our first opponents in the T20 Cup at Chester-le-Street on 2nd June.  So best not to roll over too easily it might lower morale for the start of our T20 campaign!

2.  Jim Troughton.  He has been getting a lot of stick from fans last season and this one too.  Now would be a good chance for him to prove that he should be in the team for his batting skills alone as well as his captaincy and fine fielding.

3.  Twitter.  A lot of the Warwickshire team like to spend their nights off having a bit of banter with their followers on Twitter.  If they have been seen to try their best for Warwickshire then they will be assured of a warmer reception online - and with the Champions League final taking place on Saturday night the Tweeting banter will be at fever pitch over the weekend!

4.  Chris Metters.  Metters is probably the best spin bowler that Warwickshire have availiable at the momment – but once Ant Botha is fit and Paul Best is fully availiable and free of university commitments – Metters’ skill with the bat may come in for almost as much scrutiny as his skill with the ball.  So every run here could count towards the assessment of  his all-round usefulness to the team!

5.  The Pitch Controversy.  If ever a team had a reason to want to prove a point to anybody who is watching it is the Bears!  C’mon guys show the ECB that they have not broken your spirit yet!

6.  Also, the Bears should want to show that they are a good team without their England – and now Ireland – superstars!  Do it for the county pros!

7.  Religious reasons.  Many of us do not converse with the almighty as often as perhaps we should.  So when we do it is perhaps not good for the destination of our eternal souls if our prayers are primarily concerned with sending heay rain clouds in the direction of Edgbaston.

And if all that fails to motivate our remaining batsmen tomorrow – then do it for your mum!

She could be watching Sky Sports News!

Here’s to a glorious defeat . . . . . Yoouuu Beeaaarrrsssss!!!!

Mark