Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NZ cricket goes Bear

Mark Greatbatch has been made an advisor to the NZ selection panel and, adding to the Bearification of NZ cricket with Andy Moles already installed as the new coach, Dermot Reeve (my ultimate cricket hero) will be serving as a bowling coach for the T20s NZ will be playing against the Windies. AD was also approached by NZ but turned them down and is staying with the Bears... for now anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fixtures at last!

The fixtures are out, hoorah! The campaign to bring the county championship back to Edgbaston (or avoid relegation if you prefer) begins in mid-April at Taunton and ends at Old Trafford at the end of September. Interestingly Warwickshire will play England in a 3 day warm up prior to the Ashes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Council row over loan to Warks

A row has erupted in Birmingham City Council over the decision to loan the club £20 million for it's planned redevelopment. The row has broken out because the loan was originally going to just £10 million but there are rumours it could really be double that and there are question marks about how the club will repay it!
"Some important questions need to be asked. The council helps many organisations but is it right to give financial support by means of a loan considering our other priorities?" James Hutchings, chairman of the council's finance committee, told the Birmingham Post.

"During the past couple of seasons the cricket club has barely broken even. If they are only just breaking even how can they afford to pay £1 million annual interest charges and at some stage repay the loan? It wouldn't be very friendly for the council to lend them the money if that drives the club into financial failure."

Not very encouraging.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dougie is the assistant coach

Dougie Brown has been appointed the new role of Assistant Coach which has been formed by merging the Second XI Coach and Elite Academy Coach jobs. This has meant that Keith Piper, the 2nd XI coach, has gone after 19 years with the club and has taken voluntary redundancy. Good luck to Keith in his future endeavours and to Dougie in his new role backing up the King of Spain!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Salisbury to play on until 2010

Ian Salisbury was one of last season's unexpected success stories. What was this, the members grumbled when he was signed. He is so old, what about the youth?! But his professionalism, experience and temperament proved vital to the Bears so it is good news that he has signed a contract extension until 2010.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

West Indies fill the gap

The West Indies will tour England next Spring and early Summer filling the gap left by Sri Lanka who decided to IPLise their bank accounts instead (and anyway they were filling the gap left by the mighty Zimbabwe, a country driven to bankruptcy by corruption, ineptitude and power mania. No that's Zimbabwe not the UK. Though amusingly the head of the Zim central bank has praised Britain for copying their fiscal policies, despite all the chorola and violence its nice to see Zimbabweans still have a sence of humour.) The Windies, who are just about as broke as Zimbabwe in any case, will play 2 tests and 3 ODIs, the last of which will be at Edgbaston on May 23rd.

This now allows the fixtures for 2009 to be finally completed and finalised. Quite why we had to wait i don't know considering June onwards presumably was already decided.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Will England return to India?

The Chennai test has been given the all clear according to the ECB but will there be an England team there to take part in the test? According to well-known diplomat Dominic Cork 5 or 6 players will refuse to go. (Or is he just hoping so he can step in as a replacement?)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The incredibly elusive fixture list

Because of the uncertainty around the touring team coming to England in the first half of next season the fixtures list has yet to be published for 2009. Usually its done for early November but now its a month late. I want to see the list before i make my final decision about what to do about my membership next year. I am moving more to just retaining my normal membership though if it looks likely i won't see many games again an associate or even a season ticket may instead be the result.

I don't really understand the delay though, surely the fixture list is very easy to write up. Half the CC games in chilly April and changeable May and the other half in gloomy September.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gilo has plan for the batting

The King Of Spain has a plan to improve the batting ready for the first division campaign next year, lets face it the batting has been patchy to say the least for the last few days and some way away from the awesome invincible batting that powered the club to it's last county championship only a few years ago. To improve the batting the players will be doing a lot of hard grind. Players will be practising their weaker shots over and over again, he also wants the batsman to improve their manipulation of seam bowlers and finding the gaps against spin bowling.

No doubt this will help de-risk the players techniques in the fact of the greater challenges of D1. I love the word de-risk and i am going to try and use it as much as possible.

Piper to leave Warks

Keith Piper has decided to leave Warwickshire instead of compete with Dougie Brown for the single coaching place after the coaching team reorganisation (many people think it would have been a foregone conclusion and presumably Keith also thought that too). Keith and the club are now negotiating for his financial settlement. Keith will become a freelance wicketkeeping coach.

Friday, November 28, 2008

England return home after Mumbai terror attacks

England are to return home after the final 2 ODIs in their series were cancelled in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai. They may return for the 2 tests later in the year though as one was to be held in Mumbai that may need re-thinking. The T20 Champions League was due to begin next week and Mumbai was one of the venues but this has now been postponed until the new year.

Someone who had a close shave is Worcestershire's Kabir Ali who was meant to be in the Taj Mahal hotel at the time of the attacks but instead chose to see a movie instead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bell dropped for 5th ODI

Predictably Bell was dropped for the 5th ODI against India despite the fact certain other players have done no better than him (*cough* KP) though admittedly he could have done better and needed to push on. Well known 1 day specialist Ali Cook has played instead and made 10 off 15 balls.

Andy Moles new Kiwi coach

Former Bears opening bat Andy Moles is to be appointed the new coach of New Zealand. Andy has gained a lot of coaching experience since he retired from playing in 1998 having coached Orange Free State, Hong Kong, Kenya, Scotland and most recently NZ state side Northern Districts. The fact he took them from bottom to top in the NZ state championship in 1 year no doubt helped his cause a lot. He could have been the Bear coach a couple of years ago. Instead we had MG, nuff said.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bell watch : 4th ODI vs India

England fell foul of Duckworth & Lewis in this rain ravaged match. India made 166-4 off 22 overs but England were set 198 off the same number of overs. They made a decent fist of it with some excellent play from Owais Shah in particular but fell short ending up on 178-8. Bell made 12 off 15 balls, the openers did struggle.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Westwood takes over the captaincy

Ian Westwood has been appointed the club captain for 2009, a move i welcome as he did very well when he did the job for a few months last season and Darren Maddy's captaincy has been a bit... well odd a times. Of course the question with Westwood is his batting but he improved as a player when he was captain and Gilo is confident. So best of luck to Ian and thanks to Darren and i hope can continue to be a vital player for us.

Tony Frost has been awarded a benefit for 2009 too. No one is more deserving in my view.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bell watch : 3rd ODI vs India

England's epic quest for a victory in India continues, this time they were thwarted by the light and lost by D/L (though India were probably favourites to win anyway). Scores on the door are England 240ao off 48.4 overs and India 198-5 off 40 overs.

Bell had a decent knock, 46 off 47 balls, a strike-rate of 97.87. Bopara opened with him and scored 60 off 82.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Redevelopment hits a snag

The planned redevelopment of Edgbaston has hit a snag, 4 of the owners of the homes that need to be demolished are refusing to sell them to the club (and lets face it considering the current climate who would unless the club were offering a very good price). The club may consider compulsory purchase orders and would have council support.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Is the club running out of money?

Hot on the heels of the news that either Keith Piper or Dougie Brown will have to leave the coaching staff and the membership changes now we read that the SA trip for bowlers to be coached by AD has been cancelled for financial reasons. It apparently would break The King of Spain's coaching budget. This means AD will have to return to Birmingham earlier than expected.

Changes to membership

Warwickshire have sent a posting to all members (and also updated their website) with their new line-up of membership options. The county membership has gone, to be replaced by an "associate membership" where you pay £50 to retain all the rights of membership and "privileges" and then pay on the gate when you want to attend a game. There are also a series of "season passes" which allow you into games but not as members.

Over the last few years i have not been able to come to the ground as often as i would have liked (maybe 6-7 times a year) and so at first glance the associate membership looks good for me, but then at a second glance the "classic" season pass which includes all the county championship and non-T20 one-day games looks even better.

To be honest i prefer watching cricket side on to the wicket so seldom sit in the members area and i never vote. I am considering therefore the classic season pass for £75. Full membership is £150 so its quite a saving, i would miss BTB of course but i am sure i will get over it. I shall digest the membership pack when i get home anyway, i don't have to make a decision yet.

Bell watch : 2nd ODI vs India

Oh dear, England defeated again. At least not by as much this time though 54 runs is still quite a walloping. For the record India 292-9 and England 238ao. Not a good day for Belly either, he was run out for 1. A hot piece of work apparently.
Khan to Bell, OUT, athleticism at its best and Raina is the toast of the team at the moment, Bell taps it with soft hands in front of Raina at short mid-off and sets off confidently, the ball goes across Raina but it doesn't hinder his dive as he slides and in one motion under arms the ball at the stumps, there's no need for a replay, Bell was miles out of his crease

Bell needs a good score soon or the Voices of Doom i.e. the press box are going to be going all out to get him "rested".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two becomes one... in the coaching staff

The Bears are looking to reduce the size of their coaching staff to save £40,000 and merge the jobs of second team coach and emerging players coach. This pits Keith Piper and Dougie Brown against each other. Both have to reapply for this new job and of course someone is going to miss out.

The word is that Dougie will be the chosen one and Keith will miss out after 20 years with the club as a player and coach. Its sad for Keith but predictable that the coaching jobs would merge. When Dougie's role was announced last year i was a bit confused about what his role actually was. Merged with the 2nd XI coaching job it actually now makes sense.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bell watch : 1st ODI vs India

India 387-5, England 229ao... oh dear. Bell made 25 off 35 balls and took 2 catches. What positives can we take from this KP?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bell watch : England crushed by Mumbai

Chasing 223 England made only 98, Bell contributing 6 of those precious runs. Back to the drawing board KP?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bell watch - England vs Mumbai warmup

England's first match of their winter India tour is a 1 day warm-up game against Mumbai. Bell made a creditable 58 with a strike rate of 93.54 as England racked up 297-4 and ran out fairly easy winners over Mumbai. Freddie got 100, KP got 6.

HK 6s triumph for England

England, managed by Ashley Giles and including several Warwickshire players, have won the HK 6s. To make it even better Australia were the team England beat. The final went down to the last ball and was England's 5th win in the competition and now they take home £56,000. Darren Maddy is probably glad now England didn't pick him for the Stanford series!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Maddy, Trott and Gilo prepare for HK 6s

Darren Maddy and Jonathan Trott have flown out to play in the England side that will take part in the annual Hong Kong 6s which will be held over next weekend. Ashley Giles will be taking time out from his regal duties as King of Spain to be the team manager. The rest of the squad btw is Dimitri Mascarenhas, Tim Bresnan, Ed Joyce, Graham Napier and Graham Wagg (who is an ex-Bear of course).

I was in HK a few years ago just before the HK 6s was to be held, and it is quite a well promoted event there. Of course i had to return home just before the event started. I always seem to be the nearly man!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Neil Carter agrees 2 year deal

Neil Carter, fresh from the Stanford Super Series with Middlesex (where he did OK), has signed a new 2 year contract with Warwickshire which will take him up to nearly 10 years with the club (he has been with us since 2001). Carts had a good 2008 for the Bears with ball and bat (especially at times in the T20) so signing again was expected.

Carter will not be going to the Champions League with Middlesex however as only players who were with the club when they won the T20 are eligible.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bell watch : England vs Stanford Superstars

Well i'm glad i couldn't see this after all! I had to go to London at the weekend and was cursing the fact i couldn't see the $20 million match, but in the end it seems to have been a blessing. Belly only made 7 but then again out of 99ao it wasn't that bad after all. So what went wrong? Couldn't they handle the pressure? Were their minds elsewhere? England had better get it sorted out fast, can you imagine Australia getting into such a muddle?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Get on with the game!

KP wants the week to end, Freddie is sick, the ECB are to review the series, seems everyone is lining up to give the Stanford Super Series a good kicking. The media are loving it of course as they have been vindicated, or in other words they haven't had to change their opinion of the series from before it actually happened. Finally Steve Harmison says he would find the prize money very useful. He bowled very well under pressure, who could imagine him as a T20 death bowler a couple of years ago. How this can't be considered good for his career and for England i don't know.

We've had the ridiculously overblown incident where the WAGs sat on Stanford's lap of course, one considers if Stanford was not a rich American the incident would not have merited a mention. The series is described as tawdry and crass in the media, of course T20 cricket in England is a refined and classy experience. Yes the whole thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth but its not the series or Stanford doing that but the British media doing that.

People complain about the tawdry money aspect but let us remember why England are there in the first place, they went there to try and stop players being lured by the big bucks of the ICL and IPL. Stanford didn't hold a gun to anyone's head to come and play there and the ECB will welcome their cut of the millions. This is the ECB of course who cut off live cricket from a generation of non-Sky Sports subscribers because they could get more money. Well Stanford will give them plenty of what they love and what keeps the county game afloat. Integrity can go out of the window when you have a mortgage to pay, a view shared by millions in jobs they don't like too much but would like sleeping under a canal bridge even less. Such is life.

And as for the players... you are being paid to play cricket in Antigua while England freezes, stop moaning! Rant over.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bell watch : England vs Trinidad & Tobago

In their last warm-up match England played Trinidad & Tobago, fresh from beating Middlesex to become the T20 Champions of the Universe (or something), and won by 1 run. Bell did well again scoring 37 off 41 balls including 2 sixes. Actually Bell has been the lynch pin of the T20 side for some time but of course doesn't get the plaudits.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ground redevelopment revealed

The planned £30 million development of Edgbaston has been publicly unveiled, the ground's capacity will be increased by 4000 and will include new changing rooms, bars and restaurants.

Bell run out (Carter) 23

I love cricket!

England vs Middlesex was interesting if not that exciting. The pitch in Antigua is pretty poor. Bell made a creditable 23 off 25 balls and Carter's bowling was pretty decent 1-24. I am in two minds about Carter's performances for Middlesex. I hope he does well but that he doesn't do so well that Middlesex try and poach him!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bears winter plans unveiled

Players without winter work will be returning next month to resume training 3 days a week. After Christmas the seam bowlers will travel to Bloemfontein in South Africa to train with AD. Meanwhile Gilo has unveiled the terrible state of the club when he took over last year especially in terms of off-field discipline and fitness. Things which have now been ironed out so the focus this year can be on skills.

“The bowlers won’t bowl for a while,” Giles said. “They will step it up in the New Year but between now and Christmas, the batters will hit a lot of balls.” No sniggering at the back please.

Bears lobby ECB about England matches

With time running out to secure finance for the ground redevelopment Warwickshire have lobbied the ECB to get a firm commitment about hosting England matches. The club will need to borrow the money needed and will need to show they have plenty of England matches lined up over the next few years to help pay the loan off.

However despite being supportive the ECB haven't given the club any concrete guarantees, one problem of course being the flux the cricket world is in because of the explosion of T20. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are the latest to add to the T20 circus with their plans for an "IPL" style tournament. Though with Pakistan looking for venues to host their "home" test matches maybe Edgbaston can get in on the act.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tim Ambrose to visit BCU!

Yeah i work at Birmingham City University, anyway tomorrow Tim Ambrose will be visiting us as part of his role as a Volkswagen ambassador (whatever that means), on Wednesday 22nd October from 12.00pm to help promote a "Volkswagen Group UK Ltd student placement scheme to promote opportunities for business students". Tim "will be onsite for autographs, photos and questions", unfortunately i have a prior engagement so won't be able to get an autograph or photo. Story of my life!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Well done to Tendulkar

Of course a well done to Sachin Tendulkar who broke the record for runs scored in test matches in the current test match between India and Australia. He just needed 15 runs to bear Brian Lara's 11,953 and ended up with 88 so becoming the first (and so far only) player to pass 12,000 runs. An amazing achievement and you wonder, with test cricket getting gradually squeezed by the seemingly insatiable demand for T20 and ODI cricket, whether another will top him. Well Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid might but they are both still a long way behind.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another touch of Frost

Tony Frost, returning because of a wicketkeeping SOS from his new job on the ground staff, ended up our best batsman in the 2008 season and has signed for another year. Heavy run scoring including a career best 242* surely must have been a big factor behind the promotion and D2 title win in the championship and will be needed for the title charge in D1 next year!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tim Groenewald goes to Derby

Tim Groenewald has left Warks with a year on his contract remaining with mutual consent to join Derbyshire. Meanwhile Scottish bowler Calum MacLeod has signed a 2 year contract with the Bears and will be off to have some intensive training with AD in South Africa this Winter. Jolly nice!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FP Trophy Group of Death

The groups for the 2009 FP Trophy have been announced and we are in Group B. And here is the full line-up :


So we have the 2008 T20 champions, the 2008 FP runner-up and Somerset too who are a good one-day side on their day. Excellent its the "Group of Death"!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Boyd Rankin in action for Ireland

Ireland are currently playing Kenya in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the first class competition for below-Test level countries, and the Bears' own Boyd Rankin is playing for Ireland. Ireland look to be on top at Day 2, making 578-4dec and in reply Kenya are 62-3 with Boyd on 1-22.

This blog will try and keep a track on Warwickshire players who are playing around the world this winter (as well as with England of course), 1 or 2 often end up playing in New Zealand or South Africa.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Warks not looking to add to the playing squad

Ashley Giles has said Warwickshire will not be looking to sign players from other counties to augment the squad, maybe because most of the names we are linked with don't come anyway. All the King of Spain is looking at is a good overseas bowler, a paceman to spearhead the attack. Unfortunately we seem to be looking for such a rare beast every year for the last few years and haven't got one yet. A few signings have looked good for a short period before having to leave due to international commitments or just gone off the boil.

Gilo is keeping faith with the current squad, 12 month contracts have been offered to Chris Woakes, Calum MacLeod, Andy Miller, Ian Salisbury and Ant Botha. Tony Frost could play for 1 more year too. Hoorah!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Stanford T20

It has trouble in the courts and Brian Halford writing for the Birmingham Post is against it but personally i have no trouble with the upcoming Stanford T20 taking place, i do worry though that the winner takes all and high stakes could cause ruptions in the England team and if they win this could cause a divide between the winners and other England players who don't play ODIs/T20s.

However professional sportsmen are always just 1 tackle/slip/ball away from a career ending injury so if some American tycoon wishes to throw millions at them for a few hours work then good luck to them! I am more interested in some of the warm-up games, especially England vs Middlesex. Neil Carter will be playing for Middlesex so we could have the sight of Carter bowling at Ian Bell. I don't know about you but that sounds rather cool to me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ateeq Javed named in England junior squad

Ateeq Javed, Warwickshire's 16 year old future batting star (hopefully) has been named in England's U18 squad. That is the good news, unfortunately there are no other Warwickshire players in there with him. It is a difficult situation for the club especially the time, effort and money spent on youth development but is it a situation the current regime inherited and they should be able to improve matters. We shouldn't forget Chris Woakes of course who is surely a future senior England player.

Bowling averages - CC

Warwickshire bowling statistics for the county championship this year, figures show overs bowled, runs conceded, average, best return and wickets taken. Well done to Chris Woakes who was #9 in the overall CC D2 stats!

1 CR Woakes 287 864 20.57 6-68 42
2 DL Maddy 152 438 25.76 4-25 17
3 IDK Salisbury 268.4 865 27.90 6-100 31
4 WB Rankin 86.3 362 30.16 4-80 12
5 NM Carter 373.4 1278 31.17 6-100 41
6 JE Anyon 228.2 844 32.46 6-82 26
7 CS Martin 159.1 580 36.25 5-84 16
8 LM Daggett 91 322 40.25 3-69 8
9 M Zondeki 96.2 381 42.33 4-125 9
10 R Clarke 18 87 43.50 2-49 2

Batting averages - CC

The top 10 batting averages for Warwickshire players in the county championship this season, Tony Frost was #1, Ian Bell #3 and Jon Trott #7 in the overall D2 stats. Stats show the matches played in, total number of runs, highest score and average.

1 T Frost 13 1003 242* 83.58
2 IR Bell 4 436 215 72.66
3 IJL Trott 16 1240 181 62.00
4 TR Ambrose 7 333 156* 47.57
5 JO Troughton 12 581 138* 41.50
6 R Clarke 2 122 81 40.66
7 DL Maddy 13 678 138 35.68
8 IDK Salisbury 13 393 81 32.75
9 NM Carter 13 430 84 30.71
10 IJ Westwood 11 506 176 29.76

Rikki's figures are just for his Warks games, he also played a few games for Derbyshire. Bell's and Ambrose's stats do not include their England runs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Carter signs for Middlesex... on loan for CL

Neil Carter has been signed by Middlesex on loan to replace Dirk Nannes in their side for the T20 Champions League to be held in December. Nannes will be playing for Victoria instead so can't make the gig so Carter has been signed as a replacement left-arm seamer so could be going to make a lot of cash, the Champions League winners will win $2.5 million.

Heads up to Kim for finding this.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bell and Ambrose go to India

Well Ian Bell was a pretty much sure thing but maybe there was some doubt about Tim Ambrose's inclusion in the England squad to tour India at the end of the year but both have been chosen along with Owais Shah which is very welcome as he is an excellent player whom deserves a decent chance with England.

Jon Trott has also been chosen for the "England Performance Programme squad" which will also tour India later this year.

Trott has also been selected for the squad for the HK 6s along with Darren Maddy and ex-Bear Graham Wagg.

That was the 2008 season

For a third year running i didn't manage to get to the ground as often as i would have liked but its due to circumstances not any lack of desire. What i did see didn't overly impress me to be honest, for a lot of the season the Bears seemed to be playing with a lack of sunshine. Occaisionally there were glimpses such as on some of the televised one day games i saw but in the championship it was a grind for a long time but we have to expect a new regime to take some time to get things going as they would like. I think Giles' team is going in the right location and if we can get the openers sorted out we could be a real threat to Durham's title next season.

Some things did baffle me, i personally would have preferred to see Luke Parker persisted with for another season. I'm not 100% sure with Nav Poonia yet though i did see him play a blinding innings in a SET game last year so the potential is there. I wonder at the seemingly desperate attempts by the club to sign every player out there (though a lot of it could have been rumour and paper talk) however the signing of Ricki Clarke will be a good one i feel.

My player of the season was Ian Salisbury, its great to have a wicket taking leg spinner in the side. Its just a pity he is even older than me. Hero though has to be Tony Frost, the sort of gritty county player we need more of. Not flashy but dependable. Jon Trott had a brilliant season with the bat and lets hope that can continue.

For 2009 i'd like the club to improve it's image both with us members, the general public and the cricket community. A few times this year the club came across as smug, mean spirited or evasive. Lets be sunshine cricket both on and off the pitch.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

That's all folks

The Division 2 title already in the bag could the Bears get a win against Glamorgan in the last game of the season? Yes. Warks 315 & 208 Glamorgan 193 and 233. The Bears won by 179 runs. Chris Woakes and Neil Carter doing the damage. So that's it for another year, now my attention can be given to watching the Villa underachieve as usual. This blog will still run of course, there will be plenty of cricket going on around the world.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Division 2 champions

When Glamorgan went 3 wickets down it earned Warwickshire the bowling bonus point they needed to overhaul Worcestershire and win division 2 of the county championship. So whoop! Currently Glamorgan are 97-6. It would be nice to end the season with a win.

Warks 315ao

Warks are 315ao on day 2 of the final game of 2008, Tim Ambrose fell on 86 but Carts made a breezy 63. So is that 1 more point needed now, so 3 wickets? Ex-Bear Adam Shantry took 5-77 for Glamorgan.

Bears push to the Division 2 title

It was nice to go down to the ground today, probably my last chance this season, and see the Bears grind their way to the bonus points they need to win the Division 2 title. When i got there (well after the start as i had to go to the dentist first - no pain except financial) the Bears were struggling a bit with 2 wickets down already but the T team - Trott, Tony Frost and then Troughton steadied the ship.

Frosty couldn't repeat his double century antics, i actually saw his stumps go flying. That's a novelty for me, usually i am looking at a bird or a flag or something and then hear the death rattle. The T team continued with Tim Ambrose and Carter (who is an honorary T) taking the Bears up to 270-7 at stumps. 300 must be the initial target and then they just need a few wickets to get that last couple of points.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preview to the final battle

Its time for the final round of county championship matches, all eyes will be on who can win the championship... the 2nd division championship of course. I believe the 1st division is being contested too.

Its all set up nicely for the Bears, they need 4 points from their home game against bottom of the table Glamorgan to pip the Pears to 1st place. I shall be there tomorrow though i have a dental appointment first, ugh. A ground out draw would do but i think they should play for a win and take that into their championship charge in 2009.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The boys are back in town

I'm away all day getting lost in deepest darkest Staffordshire and Warwickshire and what happens, the Bears beat Essex and get promoted! In fact i was probably in Warwick itself at the time they won, trying to find the castle, it seems very apt. Our victory was set up by an amazing 6for by Ian Salisbury. This match has been the match of true County pros, Frosty for his batting and Salisbury for his bowling. Both unexpected heroes and that makes it all the sweeter.

All that is great about county cricket can be encapsulated in the rugged innings of Frost, who came back when his county needed him, and in the bowling of Salisbury who left Surrey and wanted a final challenge. Neither is a fancy overseas player, a Kolpak or a centrally contracted England player. Both are real ale instead of caviar and chips. Hopefully for both of them will be helping us charge to the county championship next year.

For the record : Essex 341 and 316. Warks 514-9d and 144-4. Frosty was there at the end on 38no. The boys are back, there are many problems with the team perhaps but who cares today. if i wasn't already drunk i'd get drunk again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Frosty the man!

The Bears penultimate county championship game is away at Essex, in some ways this game is the cricket equivalent of the Battle of Jutland. The established but unsteady super power against the brash up and coming rival, the super power cannot afford to lose and defeat would be far more costly than victory would be beneficial meanwhile the whippersnapper has it all to gain. Will the super power be content with grinding out a draw?

Tony Frost, who was on the ground staff last year of course, returned to the side to fill a gap in wicketkeeping but i have always been a fan of the batting of this latter day Jellicoe. 121no by the end of the day as Warks ended on day 2 at 277/3 chasing 341. Let him go on and lets hope he is back next year, we need the grit and grind of this hero of the Midlands for awhile yet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That Ambrose can bat after all

After an indifferent season with England (though not as bad as the meedja claimed) Tim Ambrose put that behind him with a superb century for the Bears in the Pro40 game against Derbyshire on Saturday. He made 111* in fact as the Bears won by 29 runs. A dead rubber but a win is a win is a win. Ricki Clarke made his debut proper (against his old club too, nice) and made... 2 though to be fair he only had 4 balls to face so was on a hiding to nothing.

Hick bows out

Hick ended his home domestic one-day career on a rather subdued note, just scoring 14 runs at Kidderminster as the Pears lost to Middlesex in the Pro40 but he's scored enough runs already! Have a nice retirement (but wouldn't be surprised if there is an ICL campaign in him).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

County Championship prize raised to half a million

At long last the ECB have done something about the county championship, to me and a few others at least it is the premier competition, the one that truly matters more than any other but amid the T20 hype and moolah the good old CC seemed in danger as meaning as much as the SEC to the average punter. But from next season the prize money will be increased to half a million squid, lets hope the Bears are in Division 1 to play for it!

The article also bemoans the number of non-England available players in the county game, apparently a quarter of the 355 who have played in the county championship. To be honest though this means over 260 are. OK a lot of those will be too old to play for England and a lot will be ...well... rubbish but you only need 11 players for an England team. As long as there is a good pool of players in all areas then its fine. Its nowhere near as bad a situation as with the England football team (Capello's miracles apart).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kevin Latouf released

Hampshire have released a couple of players, Greg Lamb and Kevin Latouf who did come to Warks on a trial earlier in the season. He didn't play in the first team but managed a few 2nd XI appearances. For example making 40 in an SET win over Worcestershire 2nd XI in June and oddly making 40 again in the return fixture a few days later.

Giles : Warks a work in progress in one-day cricket

Warwickshire are a "Warwickshire remain a work-in-progress in one-day cricket" according to Ashley Giles, yeah we noticed! There has indeed been some progress, Trott opening has worked and i always thought it would after seeing him open in a friendly against Ireland a few years ago. I'm not sold on Carter pinch-hitting though he has had a few good scores this year. Personally i think he is too hit and miss for the role and if he fails it can derail our whole innings. Two spinners acting in unison has also been very good and i hope they continue with this (though i assume a replacement for Salisbury will be needed in a year or so).

We could do with a finisher coming in down the order to get us home or give us the end of innings final push at around #6 or 7, maybe Ian Westwood can continue to develop his batting skills and work into that role. We could do with a new captain, personally i think Maddy's captaincy is not that great, Westwood did really well in the T20 and i would like him to be made the captain full-time next season.

So Pro-40 Division 2 next season

The no-result last night i believe killed off any remaining mathematical chance of the Bears getting promoted in the Pro-40, or was that the other night. Mathematics isn't my strong point, i failed my A Level. Not that it really matters as the Pro-40 is to be killed off at the end of the next season so will be even more pointless than it unfortunately is now. I suppose being the last ever Pro-40 Division 2 champions might be worth a tiny footnote in Wisden.

The sun is out today though, lets hope the Indian Summer has begun so it will be nice for the last game of the season, CC against Glamorgan at the end of September!

Bring back the sunshine cricket!

The season is stuttering to a damp end and its time to reflect on the highlights of the 2008 season for the Bears. The county championship has been a bit of a grind though could still end in promotion, the 50 over competition was a bit of a non-entity, T20 wasn't bad at all, Pro-40 is dying quick though watching some highlights of the game in August between the Bears and Northants reminded me of some of my personal highlights of the season, seeing Trott and Maddy whack the ball into the stands over and over again.

Some more of that please, especially in the county championship which is what i tend to watch live. Some cricket to put a smile on our faces, play with zest and get rid of the fear of failure. Come on the Bears!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Remember when cricket was played on a Sunday

Back in ye olde days there always seemed to be cricket on a Sunday, the 40 over Sunday league. Well they tried it again today but unfortunately the rain had other ideas and Warks vs Essex was canceled. Its been rather damp over the other side of Brum apparently, cars abandoned in flood water on the Bristol Road? Erk! Glad i live in the hills of Erdington.

Ground was saturated, i should get my water butt down there. Its hardly filled despite all this Biblical rain. My back lawn was quite playable actually but not really big enough for a game, you could probably knock the ball for six with your breath.

My old car seems to have some trouble, thats the one i usually use to go to the ground. So if i do come again this season it's likely to be in my Dad's old car (well not that old actually, old in that its now mine) so i had better remember to remove his Lancashire CCC brolly from the boot in case it rains and i need cover. Might cause a riot.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rikki Clarke in

Rikki Clarke has left Derbyshire with immediate effect and according to Warks fan word of ..er.. keys he has signed for Warwickshire and will play in our next game. The official site is silent of course but that's no surprise. I am quite pleased he has signed though the Warks fandom is divided. He has a little bit of "name" which the Bears need and can be a decent performer with bat & ball when he tries, lets hope his good days outnumber his bad ones.

Michael Vaughan is apparently also a possible, though i would regard this as the sports transfer of the century if he came, never mind Robinho to Man City!

Update : its confirmed, 3 year contract too. Mind you he was on a 2 year deal with Derby and didn't even last 1 of those 2 years.

Hick to retire

I saw him play earlier in the year, i thought it could be the last time, and i was right. Who am i talking about, well Graeme Hick who has announced he will retire at the end of the season. The 42 year old became the highest run scorer of all time earlier in the season and any other records would probably be beyond him so i guess there isn't really anything left for him to prove and his injury problems probably helped him decide to end his career with Worcestershire that began in 1984.

Ian Bell won't be available for the Bears for the rest of the season

Ian Bell is among the centrally contracted players who will not be available for their counties for the rest of the season (which is about 27 days) though annoyingly Alistair Cook has been given special dispensation to play for Essex in a couple of 1 day matches... one being against Warwickshire!

Considering how short the rest of the season is and how promotion/relegation is up for grabs for a number of counties i think it is silly (to say the least) to stop batsmen playing unless they feel like they really need a break. Bowlers perhaps have a case though compared to years past bowlers do bowl a lot less in a season than they used to.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bell watch - fourth ODI vs South Africa

England go 4-0 up in the series but not the best of days for IR Bell in this rain affected game. 13 runs only, but in the context of a target of 137 not that bad, and a catch. Fair to middling day in the office.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Frosty gets a bowl

One of the givens in cricket is that wicketkeepers relish their chance to turn their arm over and have a bowl. According to Cricinfo Tony Frost has only bowled 12 balls in 101 first class games and never in 1 day cricket. But in the current game he had the chance to bowl another 12! However unfortunately he didn't turn out to be a demon bowler to skittle out Derbyshire who ended up on the end of day 3 at 462-7 chasing 476-9d. A draw seems likely.

Bell watch - third ODI vs South Africa

An excellent day in the office, lets see the critics put the dampener on this one (though i'm sure they will try!) 73 runs including 11 4s and a 6 with a strike rate of 94.8 as England won the series against a strangely off-colour South Africa.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bears vs Derby CC Day 2

Its ages since i have been able to get to the ground, in fact only my 4th visit this season because of various circumstances this Summer. Not really "cricket on the cheap" but i don't mind. I decided to visit the members' area for a change (i prefer to watch side onto the wicket), beer was overpriced of course. The club shop do not sell Bear logo tax disc holders anymore unfortunately which means my second car (ooh get me) will have to remain un-Bear-branded for the moment. I did get a new rubber for my bat's handle. As its been about 10 years since the last time i changed it i have forgotten again how to put it on the bat without getting a hernia.

As for the play well Trott looked good, rode his luck a bit but ended up not that far short of a double ton as the Bears amassed 476-9d, you'd think they'd have gone for 500... ah yes but the last man in was Chris Martin... Derby ended the day on 83/0. An early breakthrough will be needed tomorrow if we are win this.

Save local cricket reporting!

Its come to my attention that Trinity Mirror, who own most of the local newspapers in the west midlands including the Birmingham Post and Mail and the Coventry Evening Telegraph are cutting back staff and will no longer devote time and resource to local cricket from September. Brian Halford and George Dobell, who of course cover the travails of the Bears and Pears, will no longer be dedicated to cricket and may not even continue working at the newspapers.

Sadly another sign of the football-mania that inhabits the media, its all football football football and other sports only make an appearance when things go really well or really badly. I am a big football fan myself before anyone asks but i can't see the point of endless pages of transfer speculation (which are usually nonsense anyway), boring player interviews and columns (which so often arn't written by them anyway) and insider info (so to speak) on groin strains.

Anyway it has been suggested on a forum that e-mail addresses you can write to are steve.dyson@birminghammail.net and Marc.Reeves@birminghampost.net though this is part of a wider cutting back in regional media. The overall trend in many areas in this country for decades now has been the homogenization of the country, getting rid of local brands and replacing with national and international ones. Thats why so many town centres are the same.

Its a blow to county cricket in any case, another example of the game disappearing from mass view. The ECB made a long term mistake when they plumped for Sky only for cricket, now their coverage is great (apart from Bob Dylan Willis) but the game has vanished domestically for so many people. The Premiership Rugby has just negotiated highlights with ITV why couldn't there have been at least T20 highlights somewhere terrestrially? Of course the ECB will say no one apart from Sky bid but maybe they didn't think it was worth it and that Sky were already the preferred choice because of before?

Oh well off to the Home Of Cricket ((c) Nick Knight) to watch the Bears against Derby later...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bell watch - second ODI vs South Africa

South Africa 83ao, England 85-0

South Africa, are you Warwickshire in disguise? Another good day in the office for Bell, 28 unbeaten runs (still some commentator moans of course) and a near run-out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Warks vs Surrey - Pro40

Surrey 238-5, Warwickshire 217ao

I was thinking of going to this today but the pressing needs of a neglected garden changed my mind, good job then. Trotty got 92 and Troughton 41 but not much elsewhere. The bad run of form continues, sorry to say but Maddy seems to be a jinxed captain. The Bears were pretty average early in the season but their good run of form coincided with his injury and Westwood's captaincy now Maddy is captain again we haven't looked forward. Could be sheer coincidence of course but due to my sincerely held pagan beliefs i don't believe in coincidence, or something like that.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Glamorgan vs Warks - Pro40 in Cardiff

Glamorgan 218-7, Warks 88ao

WHAT?! The Bears obviously going for this year's comedy performance, Groenewald and Woakes top scored on 31 each, Chris Martin hilariously was next with 7. Yes Chris Martin was the next highest scorer. Brutal.

Bell watch - first ODI vs South Africa

Not a bad day at the office, 35 runs, a run-out and a catch. Of course the commentators are moaning. IR Bell could singlehandedly end global warming, cure cancer and end world poverty and still people would moan.

Warwickshire making progress on ground redevelopment plans

The club are making good progress on their plans for ground redevelopment including it's "iconic" new pavilion (groan). More properties on the Pershore Rd have been purchased and Birmingham City Council are prepared to lend the Bears the money needed. Getting planning permission should also be a done-deal. Money remains the main sticking point as always.

According to a report earlier in the year the club may have to borrow up to £30 million to fund the new pavilion however this may be offset by the sale of part of their existing ground plus the Pershore Rd properties to build a retail and housing development. Povey has warned it could all go wrong however because of the difficult current climate, indeed this rain is troublesome.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From the photographic archives

Looking through some dusty folders on my computer i came across this couple of photographs showing the thrills and spills of 2nd XI action at Walmley CC. Yeah my camera could do with a zoom lens i admit. Home team was the Bears 2nd XI of course, the pictures are from 2004 which means (i think) the opposition was Hampshire 2nd XI. Hampshire were batting, you can see Keith Piper walking away on the left in the first pic.

A little bit more clear is this photo of the old scoreboard before it went all digital.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The downfall of TMS?

At the risk of sounding like the Daily Mail or Telegraph and bemoaning the continual destruction of Great Britain i notice that Mike Selvey has criticised Test Match Special for becoming too laddish, that's after he was dropped from the programme so no bias there of course. He has a slight point, some of the new presenters from Radio 5 are a bit different and their cricket knowledge is questionable as TMS presenters have always been very professional and knowledgable of course (Blowers *cough*).

I've been listening to TMS this Summer as always and enjoyed it as always, as a working class oik myself i enjoy the banter of Tufnell and the others. Simon Mann is quite good, Mark Pougatch i could do without maybe. There are still plenty of off-the-wall anecdotes and cakes, so all is well. The Empire has yet to fall.

The Web 2.0 side of TMS (blog, Flickr et cetera) is a welcome addition i feel.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Should the Champions Trophy be in Pakistan

Various countries are umming and ahhing about whether to go to the Champions Trophy in Pakistan considering the "security situation" in the country, England received a briefing on the security measures from the ICC today. Apparently Sri Lanka, a country wracked by civil war and terrorism, is hilariously on standby to be the alternative venue. I suspect if the IPL or Champions League was being played in Pakistan everyone would be going there without a second thought.

Unfortunately most countries in the cricket world have some sort of strife or internal problems including this one with it's dozens of active terrorist cells if you believe the authorities (which i don't personally).

Scotland vs England - Poonia falls

NS Poonia c Patel b Bresnan 0 (3b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

Oh dear.

Test cricket : "They're dying Jim." "Let them die!"

Test cricket is under attack from the new kid on the block (well 5 or so years old kid) Twenty20 of course. Apart from here and Australia test match attendances are rather low, pitifully low in some cases so the England desire to keep test match cricket special is not really shared by some other countries, especially India who now run the game (de-facto).

The T20 Champions League has been rescheduled and now clashes with England's test series in India in December. The Champions League final will be the day before the first test starts which could make for some interesting overnight travel for some players. Boards such as Australia and South Africa maybe are more keen on protecting test cricket but they need the cash from joining the Indian-led T20 money train.

So what should happen then, should we strive to maintain test cricket or just bow to the inevitable? Test match cricket is profitable here but unfortunately even if that remains the case here for other countries it is less of a priority and players will start to opt out of a 5 days test match grind in return for a few hours work that may yield much more money. Weaker teams and finally no teams at all may mean test match cricket dies even in England.

Still lets hope T20's amazing expansion cools down, to be honest i think T20 does need to come down a bit to remain sustainable. Unfortunately cricket is currently run like any capitalist system and short term gain is all that matters.

Scotland vs England - battle of the Bears

England have travelled up to Scotland to play them in an ODI, part of England's warm-up before their T20+ODI series against South Africa. Interestingly not only is Ian Bell lining up for England but there is a Warks player lining up for Scotland too. Navdeep Poonia of course though he hasn't been on the best of form lately only getting a couple of low scores in the last championship match against Essex (the weather made that game not the easiest to play in though, especially as an opening batsman).

The weather could be a problem today too, the forecast doesn't look too promising. Currently drizzling up in Edinburgh apparently.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Members angered by Ashes ticket policy

Members have been voicing their anger on various fora because of the situation with half-memberships and Ashes tickets. The half-year memberships were introduced in May and were quite a good deal at £65 offering 70% of the season for 40% of the cost. 1000 people took up this reasonable offer and now they have equal precedence with full-members to procure Ashes tickets. This of course meant that people who paid 40% got tickets instead of people that paid 100%. This ticket policy was defended by Povey (the CEO) in the Birmingham Post.

No doubt some people have taken the half-membership just to get Ashes tickets (one caller to the radio a few days ago admitted it) and in some cases the member discount they can get is greater than the £65 the half-membership costs. You do the math. Some full-time members have also said they will consider getting a half-membership next year instead though Povey says it may not be offered again.

I'm not that interested in test match tickets though to be honest, i prefer watching it on TV. The first 2 times i went to Edgbaston (and saw live cricket) were in tests though. The first time was New Zealand a long time ago (Hadlee was still playing) and the second to see the WI destroy England. I saw Atherton come out like a man coming out to a firing squad and i got badly sunburnt. Hooray!

Warks vs Essex CC @ Edgbaston

What is it with the rain these days? It used to be torrential rain was a 1-2 times a year phenomena but now it seems 1-2 times a month... or even a week. My eco-warrior boss will of course call this evidence of climate change so we have to live in a hut made from recycled Warwickshire yearbooks and drinking our own urine. So this match only really got started on the 3rd day but Warwickshire, who batted, decided they would get a move on and ended up 154 all out. At stumps Essex are 38-2.

As there is only 1 day left it looks like this match could be a draw though if the Bears collapse in their second innings as they did in their first then you never know!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

T20 for Olympics 2020?

The Aussies are leading a growing campaign to get the T20 form of cricket into the Olympics in time for 2020, obviously they know its 1 more guaranteed gold medal. Adam Gilchrist is leading the push to return cricket to the Olympics. It was in the original games of course, though cricket not being back since means England comfortably remain Olympic cricket champions. Steve Waugh has added himself to the campaign.

Cricket should be in the Olympics to be honest, its a much bigger sport than some that are in already. So why not? 2020 is some way off of course, 12 years though someone like Alistair Cook could feasibly feature in it. It could be a teenager currently playing county cricket today could be leading England to Olympic glory in Pyongyang or wherever the 2020 Olympics are held.

Monday, August 4, 2008

England captain?

Who should be the England cricket captain now that MP Vaughan has finally stepped down? Obviously the answer is myself but that's probably too left-field a selection. KP Nuts is the pick of many a pundit and it could likely be him but i'd rather the captaincy went to someone with a bit of experience in the job. I'd like to see Robert Key given the gig, though of course there is a problem with him not being a current test team player. However the last time he was in the side he did score a double century at Lord's in front of the Queen so he isn't that bad a player.

A problem with central contracts is that players often do not get to play for their counties anymore and hence do not get much captaincy experience. Of course some players can respond to the challenge, for Warwickshire i always thought Ian Westwood was a fringe player and maybe would never make it but he was made captain after injury to Darren Maddy and responded brilliantly, not only did the team start winning but his own batting form really responded well.

But then again there are cases like Iron Bottom and Flintoff who's performances have suffered when given the added burden of captaincy. Both were top class all-rounders though so perhaps the fact they never could relax was the problem. Anyway we'll find out later...

Update : well it was KP anyway. What a surprise!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A great day... so where was the cricket

Cricket is a strange sport in this country, Sunday was a glorious day with probably the best weather of the year so far, so you would expect such a Sunday in July would have lots of top-level cricket on show. Well there was South Africa versus Bangladesh A at New Road, Worcester and... that was it!

I know it was T20 Finals Day on Saturday and they had to have a reserve day for the 4 counties involved but what about the other 14 counties? Couldn't they have arranged some fixtures for a Sunday in July?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Musings on the changes to the domestic game

The new structure of county cricket was announced last week which includes a shiny new English Premier League T20 tournament in the middle of the Summer and the Pro40 replaced by a T20 league. Broadly i am happy with the changes though there will need to be some work to differentiate between the 2 T20 competitions. Care will also need to be taken that T20 overkill does not occur.

The county championship has been left unchanged which is the most important thing for me, talk of 3 randomly drawn conferences sounded like a death of a 1000 cuts for the first class competition. Talk of city franchises would also have been the thin end of the wedge. I don't feel the British like artificial club franchises, they like clubs with history behind them even if they don't know anything much about the history (take the largely negative reaction to MK Dons for example). I am a Warwickshire CCC supporter, and although i might watch the Birmingham Barbarians (or whatever it would be) i wouldn't have the sense of history and memories i get from the Bears.

Ah the memories, that cup final won with a 4 off the last ball, the county championship glory years, Lara's 501, heroes like Dermot, almost getting hit by a 6 hit by Carts, getting sunburnt in the Raglan stand...

To be honest i became a cricket fan because of watching the Bears, on BBC2 on Sunday afternoons. But now to England. Darren Pattinson's call-up got a lot of criticism but he didn't do too badly. I suspect he was picked to have a look at him with the Ashes in mind. That is a problem with England though, they obsess too much about the Ashes when they should be concentrating on the matter at hand. I think the media and pundits have been a bit unfair on the lad and hopefully he'll have another chance one day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New cricket season

Its the start of the county cricket season so of course its a nice sunny day. Well at least it's dry if rather 'taters (potatoes) as a cockney might say. There was a good crowd at Edgbaston to watch the first day's play this season by Warwickshire, against the "local" rivals. I'd rather be a Bear than a Pear naturally!

I did intend to stay for longer than the first session but thought i might totally freeze up if i did. I did however manage to see a few balls of Graeme Hick play. You never know, when you see a legend at the end of his career, if you will ever see him play again so it was good to see him score a boundary, even better the fact he perished soon after lunch anyway! Of course the sun came out as soon as i got home...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Welcome to my blog

My second attempt at a Warwickshire CCC blog but this blog is for life not just for Christmas Summer so hopefully will be more successful this time. The blog did not really get created until August but some posts from another of my blogs from earlier in the year have been put in to get things going.

This blog will have news from the club and matches and players. Maybe a bit of opinion too, on matters Warwickshire, England and beyond.

Snappy pic