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

The shape of things to come?

Yesterday afternoon, at around 4pm, we all learnt that Warwickshire’s appeal against the points deduction imposed because of the state of the pitch during the recent game against Worcestershire had been unsuccessful. This perhaps came as little surprise although was still very disappointing. The Bears must also pay £3,000 towards the costs of the appeal. Once again disapointing but par for the course in such cases. Never mind, we tried our best to tell ourselves, tomorrow is another day, and we have a promising LVCC match to look forward to between ourselves and close rivals Durham. They won the Championship match at their gaff and we had just won the CB40 game at ours. Honours even – and so were the points in the LVCC Div 1 table.

Will Edgbaston give Taunton a run for its money?


And so today began full of hope and expectation. But there was always a niggling worry in the back of my mind. What would the pitch be like? Would it be another lively pitch? Or would the club take the cautious root of producing a feather-bed? Or a happy medium between the two?

Sadly, there was no happy mediun, and after winning the toss and electing to bat Durham finished on 348/3 on a pitch described by BBC local radio as slow and easy. Feather-bed it was to be then. Now I am the first to say that you should wait to see both sides bat / bowl on a pitch before drawing too many conclusions about it (ECB take note), but it looks pretty likely that this fixture is going to end in a bore draw.

This is not what players, fans, clubs or indeed the ECB really want. But it is what they will get from clubs once they have been penalised for producing lively pitches.

These sorts of pitches can produce great limited overs games but are death to the first class game!

It has been one of the high points of the season so far that the fine weather has allowed enough play in most matches to lead to a positive result one way or the other.

If this pitch is the shape of things to come for the rest of the season at Edgbaston it could be draws all round from here on in. No doubt the records will be tumbling and totals soaring in the 40 and 20 over games. But there will be less and less interest in the Championship games.

I hope we get this pitch situation sorted – we don’t want Edgbaston to be the new Sabina Park, but we don’t want it to be the new Taunton either! After all, there must be reasons why Somerset have never won the County Championship, and one of these is too many draws!!!

C’mon you Bears!

Mark