Ashley Giles has hailed Jim Troughton as having done a “fantastic job” as captain as Warwickshire take their championship challenge into the crucial last four games of the season.
Top of Division One with three quarters of the fixtures gone, the Bears went into the current game at home to Middlesex in a fantastic position.
Already with a handy lead at the summit, they received a giant boost last Saturday when close pursuers Nottinghamshire suffered a surprise defeat to Durham at Trent Bridge,
With three games - Nottinghamshire home and away with a visit to Worcestershire in between - left after the current match, Warwickshire’s title fate is very much in their own hands.
They are in with a great chance of bringing the championship - the blue riband trophy of county cricket - to Edgbaston for the first time in eight years. And director of cricket Giles believes Troughton deserves enormous credit.
The captain endured a torrid time with the bat during the first half of this season but has bounced back strongly with big runs in the last month.
Above all, since taking over as captain when fellow Edgbaston product Ian Westwood resigned at the end of the 2010 season, Troughton has provided strong and intelligent leadership to a squad which clearly has the highest respect for him.
“It’s nice to have home-grown captains anyway but I thought Westy did a fantastic job,” said Giles. “I totally understand his reasons for giving it up because he deserves some time to concentrate on his own game but he takes a lot of credit for the way he led the side for two season season. And now Jim has carried that on.
“I thought he would do a good job but he has surprised me the way he has taken to it so well.
What he has from all the players is a tremendous amount of respect - for the way he goes about things, the way he runs his life and just the sort of bloke he is.
“Jim had a tough time with the bat early this season but came through that and part of why he did is the level of support he feels from the players around him. Everyone has been there for him and known there was a score just round the corner for him.
“Since the T20 break he has played beautifully and I hope that continues because it’s great for him, as a captain and leader, to have runs under his belt.”
It is helpful for Troughton, reckons Giles, to have not only his predecessor Westwood around him in the team but plenty of other experienced cricketers with whom to exchange ideas.
“Darren Maddy has captained the side, Westy has and Will Porterfield is an international captain,” said the director of cricket. “Chris Woakes has matured and Varun Chopra is showing some leadership abilities so having those guys around him helps - but Jim is the leader and he has done a fantastic job.”
Among the players at Troughton’s disposal during the run-in, meanwhile, is veteran spin-bowling all-rounder Ian Blackwell who has arrived on a one-month loan deal from Durham.
Blackwell made his Bears debut at in the CB40 match against the Unicorns at Wormsley last Sunday and will stay until the end of the season.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “The chance to join Warwickshire for the rest of the season is a fantastic opportunity for me to play first-team cricket and hopefully help Warwickshire win the title.
“There are some big games ahead and I’ll relish the challenge. I always enjoy playing in big games and hopefully will be able to contribute.
“I don’t think there is anything for me to prove. If you look at my first-class record, that probably speaks for itself over the years. It’s not as though I have only played 50 games and deserve to have played more.
“I have played 220-plus and it’s something I should still be doing. I have still got one more year with Durham and hopefully I can hit some form and hopefully force my way into their team.”