There may be a temptation to consider the NatWest Pro40 as being the least important competition in the domestic programme but Ashley Giles, Warwickshire’s director of cricket, insists it remains a “high priority”.
Certainly the Pro40 has been much maligned in recent years but its passing will not go completely unmourned. For many, the old Sunday League was an introduction to cricket and played a substantial part in attracting a generation of supporters to the game. A staple of BBC televsion on Sunday afternoons, it filled grounds and became vital to counties’ economies. It is a factor that the England and Wales Cricket Board should reflect upon before placing too many eggs in the Twenty20 basket.
Warwickshire’s campaign begins tomorrow with the arrival of Kent. It looks a tough match, as the visitors have already progressed to the final of the Friends Provident Trophy and to finals day of the Twenty20 Cup and appear the form side in limited-overs cricket.
Warwickshire spent last night looking at statistics and planning their statergy. Decisions had yet to be made on the batting order or team selection but it appears highly likely that the side will resemble the Twenty20 unit, with Neil Carter opening the batting and the bowling attack including both spinners.
“I’d compare this competition more to the Twenty20 than the [50-over] Friends Provident,” Giles said. “The risk management is greater in this but it should be the same sort of tempo as the Twenty20.
“Playing two spinners worked well for us in the Twenty20 and Carter is at his best at the top of the order.
“The competition has a high priority for us. We’ve got pride to play for. You never want to be in the second division and we’re in the second division in two competitions.
“It’s a strong division. Sides like Kent, Surrey, Glamorgan, Yorkshire and Essex are in with us so it’s going to be tough but we are very keen to win promotion.
“We saw in the Twenty20 how important planning could be, so we’re going to spend the evening looking at the flip charts and stats. The more we prepare, the better we’ll play.
“We weren’t very good in the Friends Provident but the Twenty20 was much better. We’re making progress.”
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