Ashley Giles has hinted that some good news could await Warwickshire’s beleaguered batsmen next season – less bowler-friendly pitches at Edgbaston.
After several years as a depressing bowlers’ graveyard, the Edgbaston square lurched the other way in 2010. The assistance that pitches gave to the bowlers, allied to the new roller regulations, contributed to (though far from excused) the desperate fortunes suffered by the Bears’ top order.
The bowlers weren’t complaining. Chris Woakes, Neil Carter and Imran Tahir filled their boots to take more than 50 championship wickets in the season while Rikki Clarke added 32 at 23 apiece, Darren Maddy 21 at 24 and Boyd Rankin 22 at 27.
Opposing seamers at Edgbaston also enjoyed their share of success against Warwickshire’s confidence-drained batting line-up though. So this season director of cricket Giles wants to get the balance right.
And most of all, he wants to know exactly what type of surface he can expect during each game.
“The bowlers might not have such an easy ride next season,” he said. “The key for me will be to know what kind of wickets we are playing on so we can plan properly for the opposition.
“Sometimes you need to have ten men behind the ball, as it were, and say ‘right we are looking for a draw’ or to set your stall out from ball one and get a big score and go ‘route one’.
"Or if a game comes along against someone who are weak or are missing players you say right this is the game to go and win.
“You have to have a strategy for every match and I need to be able to share that with the team. We can have our game plans but if we don’t know what sort of surface we are playing on it is harder.”
If Carter remains fit and Woakes stays out of England’s Test team, Warwickshire appear to have a strong seam armoury next year, especially with the fragile Naqaash Tahir needing to play eight first-class games to activate another contract.
“If everyone is fit and firing we will have some good selection problems next year,” said Giles. “We have Woakes and Carter up top then Tahir, Miller and Rankin. Then there’s Clarke, who bowled well last season, and Maddy who chipped in too.
“We have some very good all-rounders – Clarke, Maddy, Carter, Woakes, Ant Botha, Keith Barker, Stef Piolet – and that gives us great options in one-day cricket as well.”