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 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.