Warwickshire will assess spinner Ant Botha’s elbow injury on Monday before deciding whether he will figure in the opening match of the season against Somerset at Taunton starting next Wednesday.
Botha has been struck by an acute attack of tennis elbow which reared up painfully during the Bears’ pre-season visit to South Africa.
It was the last thing that Warwickshire needed in the immediate run-up to the new campaign. With Ian Salisbury having retired from playing to join the Surrey coaching staff and overseas signing Jeetan Patel engaged in a bureaucratic battle to obtain a visa, Warwickshire could have to take on Somerset without a specialist spinner.
But Botha has begun a course of injections which, it is hoped, will manage the problem and limit the discomfort enough for him to play. It is his right elbow that is affected so, as a left-arm spinner, his bowling is not too badly inconvenienced. It is batting, with all the required bending of the arm, which is painful.
Warwickshire’s preparations for the new season have not been without irritation.
New club captain Ian Westwood will be out for another month at least with a cracked wrist while, yet again, the logistical problems of signing an overseas player have loomed large.
The odds are against Patel making his debut at Taunton, not least because of his current location, at home in Wellington, New Zealand. Even if the Home Office churns out the relevant documentation in time, which is highly unlikely considering that Easter is here, Patel has to travel from the other side of the world, a trip he cannot begin until entirely certain that he has no more procedural loose ends to tie up over there.
At least there is more promising news about Botha although perhaps Warwickshire might be better off going in at Taunton without a twirler, bearing in mind the precedent of June 1, 1985, and the tap handed out then to Norman Gifford.
That was the day when one Viv Richards enjoyed himself for Somerset against the Bears to the tune of 322 runs from 258 balls with 42 fours and eight sixes. The wily Gifford harvested figures of 18-1-135-1.
Richards’ glorious innings was immortalised in a limited edition Elizabethan Staffordshire china plate, 200 of which were issued.
It is understood that one does not now adorn the wall of Gifford’s living room, nor that of Dean Hoffman, who followed figures of 14-0-85-1 with a blob in the match, nor of umpire Allan Jones who officiated that day as he so often seems to do when Warwickshire’s players and spectators suffer.