Tuesday, 15 April 2008

2008 Season Preview: Warwickshire

Continuing our county previews, here is an assessment of Warwickshire's chances in 2008.

2007 in a Nutshell:
The season began impressively enough, with an early 12-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, with locum overseas player Dale Steyn most impressive. However, when he left the side began a steep downward curve. Despite getting to the semis of the FP Trophy, their season was amongst the worst in their history, with relegation in the Championship and Pro40 alike.

2008 Prospects
A hectic winter under Director of Cricket Ashley Giles will hopefully lead to rewards. Alex Loudon, he of the 'doosra' and a solitary England appearance, retired aged just 27, to take up a career in the city, while Adam Shantry headed to Glamorgan. Giles has reshaped the bowling attack but there are big question marks over each of Boyd Rankin, overseas man Monde Zondeki and veteran leg-spinner Ian Salisbury, who was surprisingly awarded a two-year contract. The best signing of all may just be Allan Donald as bowling coach. Overall, the feeling is Warwickshire may lack the penetration and consistency of runs to win promotion in the Championship. In the one-day game, it could prove a similar story: Tim Ambrose was their best one-day batsman last year, but he will surely miss the vast majority of games.

Batting:

Warwickshire's batting let them down too frequently last season, despite the admirable efforts of Darren Maddy. However, in Division Two the axis of Maddy, Johnathan Trott and Jim Troughton should prove prolific. Trott and Troughton have both had fleeting international careers, but have much to do to get near adding to their caps. While Troughton did well enough last campaign, Trott, in between his slightly baffling England appearances, averaged less than 20 in the Championship. The openers, Mike Powell and Ian Westwood, should also have some success. But a man who has a huge job on his hands is the unretired Tony Frost, who returns to keep wicket while Ambrose continues his international career. The hardest thing will be to come close to replacing Ambrose's runs.

Bowling:
Monde Zondeki is best remembered to Englishmen for a tenacious debut half-century at Headingley in 2003. He is an intriguing pick as overseas player; a brilliant start could lead to an irritating call-up to the South Africa touring squad once more, though he should stay until the end of the season. Donald could have a tremendous influence on him. Likewise Rankin, who starred in the World Cup, but suffered with injuries and, according to some, attitude, for Derbyshire last year. There are a series of other quicks - Tahir, James Anyon, Lee Daggett and Neil Carter - who have all produced the occasional fine performance, while there is also highly-rated Scottish quick Calum MacLeod. But one of them has to step up and claim 50 Championship wickets this season. With the uncertainties over the seam attack, expect the spinners to have large workloads. Ian Salisbury had a dire final season at Surrey, but was a key factor in their promotion in 2006. Ant Botha's Derbyshire first-class averages - 28 with the bat; 36 with the ball - suggests he is little more than a journeyman.

Probable side:
Championship
Westwood
Powell (Bell)
Maddy (c)
Trott
Troughton
Botha
Frost (wk) (Ambrose)
Salisbury
Zondeki
Tahir
Rankin

One-day
Carter
Maddy (c)
Trott
Troughton
Powell (Bell)
Botha
Frost (wk) (Ambrose)
Salisbury
Zondeki
Tahir
Rankin (Anyon)

Twenty20
Carter
Jayasuriya
Maddy (c)
Trott
Troughton
Botha
Frost (wk) (Ambrose)
Salisbury
Anyon
Tahir
Rankin

Warwickshire will probably line up with two spinners in the majority of games, as both Botha and Salisbury are handy batsmen. Their strength lies in the middle-order trio of Darren Maddy, Johnathan Trott and Jim Troughton. Sanath Jayasuriya will add an explosive dimension to the Twenty20 side - but his uber-canny left-arm spin could prove equally significant.

Key Man:
Skipper Darren Maddy could not be faulted for his efforts last season. He is invaluable in all three forms of the game, contributing runs, wickets, with his canny bowling, and fine fielding. His partnership with Jayasuriya in the Twenty20 Cup, may be the Bears best chance of silverware.

Rising Star:
His star rather waned last season, but many eyes will be on 6ft7in Boyd Rankin in his first season for Warwickshire. He possesses tremendous bounce, good pace and consistency when all is going well, and was terrific against Pakistan, South Africa and England in the World Cup. At 23, he now needs to develop the stamina to perform over a full season, for the good of both Warwickshire and Irish cricket. There were complaints over his attitude at Derbyshire - if he does not heed Allan Donald's advice however, he will only have himself to blame.

Captain and Coach:
Alongside Giles and Donald will be Dougie Brown, as the rather pretentiously-titled 'elite player coach'. The spectre of the mid-90s glory days looms large. Maddy will have rather more realistic goals during what is a time of 'transition' for Warwickshire.

Click on '2008 county preview' to view the previews for the other 17 counties.

4 comments:

Chrispy said...

I was surprised that the Bears went out of the division so easily. I think they will challenge this year, but whilst the batting looks strong, I don't think the bowling is as good as few other sides in the division. Donald should bring on the youngsters though and Zondeki will have a point to prove along with Salisbury. Close, but possibly no cigar.

As for Twenty20, Maddy, Jayasuriya and two other spinners who can bat, chances must be good!

martin0201 said...

concerns over the Warks bolwing attack, as i dont think they have a 50 wkt a season man. as for the batting - i had totally forgotte Jon Trott played for England!!! With Ambrose missing the middle order looks weak. I can see Warks and Worcs battling for third spot.

JB said...

Some interesting thoughts. Was just wondering what type of attitude problems were attributed to Rankin during his time at Derby? From all other accounts he seems to come off as a bit of a big friendly giant. Surprised to hear this isn’t the case.

Tim said...

Cheers for the comments.

jb: it's just 'on the grapevine' but there was talk the WC got to his head' he signed for the ICL; and he only mustered a couple of CC games.