Fourth in the table, entering the final quarter of the season; most clubs would be delighted by Warwickshire's position in the top division of the Championship table. Only at Edgbaston would this be considered inadequate.

Warwickshire face a tough run-in. Of their remaining four matches, two are against teams in the top three while the others are against rivals in mid-table; both of which have matches in hand.

Yet the sense is of a campaign that has been waged. It would take a major change of fortune for the Bears to either contest silverware or be relegated. Instead the focus will shift on to reviewing this season and learning lessons before the next.

Jimmy Anyon came through a tough work-out yesterday and is expected to play today. If he does so it will be the first time this season that Warwickshire have fielded the same side in successive Championship matches.

This illustrates how the team have been affected by call-ups and injuries; it also suggests some inconsistency of selection. Of the 25 to have played first-class cricket this season, 21 have been in the Championship. In one-day cricket, in particular, it has sometimes appeared as if the team - and the batting order - is decided by picking names out of a hat.

In retrospect, it was probably naive to think that a club with a new chief executive, coach and captain could immediately gel and achieve on-field success. There is not much precedent for such swift achievement. The expectations of the club, the supporters and the media were, perhaps, unrealistic.

Several young players (Lee Daggett, Anyon, Adam Shantry, Luke Parker, Navdeep Poonia, Moeen Ali, Ian West-wood and Tim Ambrose) have made significant advances. Diminishing returns from the more experienced Mark Wagh, Dougie Brown, Heath Streak and Jim Troughton have been disappointing.

There is optimism at the club that a good team is developing from within. Though a lack of pace could inhibit the progress of all the young bowlers, each of them has skill. Several batsmen appear on the brink of exciting careers.

Moeen Ali's innings on Sunday was a first demonstration at Edgbaston of his sublime skills. Eyes widened. He is a special talent and it would be a major setback if he were to leave. Talks with Worcestershire have begun. Warwickshire face a fight to retain him.

The gaps - Knight's departure leaves a chasm - will be filled by an overseas batsman of top quality. A decision on whether to sign another over-seas player in addition to that batsman and Streak has yet to be finalised. There remains a vacancy for a strike bowler; if only one can be captured.

There will always be casualties in such rebuilding periods and Brown appears to be one. Warwickshire's premier allrounder for a decade, he has actually performed pretty well with the ball in the Champion-ship this season.

He still has a better bowling average than Neil Carter or Streak. The Scot has not necessarily played his last match for the club.

Mark Greatbatch has been dealt a tough hand and it is too early to judge how he has played it. By this time next year we will know more.

Warwickshire are the only team yet to win at the Rose Bowl, having contested three Championship matches and one List A match. At least the captain Shane Warne, on international duty, is missing for the hosts. Fast bowler Chris Tremlett and wicketkeeper Nic Pothas return.

This match will change little for Warwickshire - win, lose or draw - who will finish in mid-table and start 2007 in the top division and with a younger squad. A dozen counties would swap places in an instant.