Warwickshire's spin bowling resources took a further blow with the confirmation that Alex Loudon is out of their Championship match against Yorkshire at Scarborough today.
Loudon, who aggravated a pre-existing neck problem warming up before the final day against Middlesex, has been replaced in the squad by Ian Westwood. Loudon joins Warwickshire's other spin-ners - Ashley Giles, Daniel Vettori and Nick James - on the injured list.
The incident may result in a reprieve for Jim Troughton. Luke Parker had initially been drafted into the team to replace the out-of-form left-hander but Troughton's gentle left-arm spin may help him retain his place. Usman Awan and Jimmy Ord have been drafted into the second XI to replace Parker and Westwood.
Troughton is not the only player struggling at present. Jimmy Anyon has taken only five wickets in the last five Championship matches at a cost of more than 65 apiece while Neil Carter's strike-rate of a wicket every 17-anda-half overs is also a concern. To be fair to Carter, he has bowled much better than his figures suggest.
Without the recent signing of Paul Harris, Warwick-shire's attack really would look thin. The left-arm spin-ner has said he would like to take 30 wickets in the eight Championship matches available to him but has all but ruled out the prospects of trying to qualify to play for England.
"I'd have to stay in the county for eight months and that's just not an option," Harris said. "I'll still be playing for Titans [in South African domestic cricket] for the next couple of years at least, so I just won't be able to spend the time here.
"I was very disappointed to be left out of the South Africa squad to tour Sri Lanka, but the door still isn't shut as far as I'm concerned.
"The South African selectors were quite aggressive with me when they heard I was going to register as a Kolpak player. They just said I wouldn't be able to play international cricket.
"But South African cricket has a massive problem. There are hardly any cricketers aged more than 30 playing and there will be many more coming to England. I'm not sure that they can afford to close the door on all of us.
"Whatever happens I won't have any regrets. This is a great opportunity for me and I hope I can play for Warwickshire for ten years."
Yorkshire have some problems of their own. Darren Lehmann, who butchered the Warwickshire attack at Edgbaston earlier this season, misses the match because of a calf injury. His absence will be greeted with sighs of relief from Warwickshire's bowlers. Adil Rashid, a leg-spinning all-rounder, and Andrew Gale come into the 12.
There is a strong case for England coach Duncan Fletcher allowing Ian Bell and Matthew Hoggard to play. Bell is already half expecting the chop from the Test team and could have several weeks without a first-class innings.
Warwickshire have only one more Championship match in the next three weeks and Bell, who was obliged to play some second-team cricket in order to gain match practice a few weeks ago, may again feel in need of more time in the middle.
Hoggard, meanwhile, looked short of rhythm in the first Test at Lord's and could have done with another run-out.
Central contracts have undoubtedly benefited the national side but have also diluted the quality of county cricket. In the long-term that may adversely affect the England team as it increases the divide between the county and international game. The match against Middlesex lacked class; attendances at county matches will continue to dwindle if the best players do not play.
Twice in the last game Warwickshire players shouted at their own spectators. It may be they are very grateful for their support over the next few days.