Darren Maddy has been appointed captain of Warwickshire after Heath Streak stepped down yesterday to concentrate on his own game.
Streak admitted he had been struggling with the dual role of strike bowler and captain for some time and feels the arrival of Maddy, signed in the winter from Leicestershire, offers the club an obvious alternative.
"I've not been enjoying or focussing on my own game, particularly the bowling side of things," Streak admitted. "The team needs me to be on top of my own game.
"I set myself high standards. Although I was the highest wicket-taker last season, I aspire to higher things and just felt I was not quite there at present.
"I know I was originally signed as a front-line bowler and I know that is my most important role in the team.
"I've not taken this decision lightly. I've talked to my wife and father [former Zimbabwe cricketer Denis] a great deal and, of course, it is with some regret.
"But it's best for the team and for me. If I bowl well, then I'll help the team to big accolades and ensure I've a future at Edgbaston.
"I am out of contract at the end of the season and I'd obviously like to stay.
"People underestimate the demands of captaincy. I've noticed that whenever I've done it, for Zimbabwe or Warwickshire, my batting has picked up but that my
bowling has gone down. I felt confident tactically, but felt the team needed me to concentrate on my bowling and get that in order.
"I wasn't pushed into anything. This is my decision and there's nothing to hide. We've had our trials and tribulations, but I've enjoyed it.
"The timing isn't so bad; it's never ideal. The way Darren has settled in has made it much easier. He came with our respect and everything he's done since has added to that."
Maddy actually took over the captaincy when Streak was bowling during the first couple of games of the season.
However, that was always likely to prove an unsustainable exercise and Maddy agreed that the situation required "clarification."
"I'm deeply honoured," he said. "It took about 30 seconds to accept. Heath remains a huge part of all our plans and is our most senior bowler.
"Hopefully, this decision will free up his natural ability and turn him into a match-winning performer."
The move completes a meteoric rise for Maddy. He finished last season unsure of his place in Leicestershire's County Champion-ship side, but now finds himself established as an opener, with a county cap and as captain.
As vice-captain of Leicestershire, he stood in as leader on several occasions and says he intends to "build on the relaxed and enjoyable environment created by Heath and [county coach] Mark Greatbatch."
Some would suggest that Alex Loudon or Jonathan Trott should have been considered while Ashley Giles certainly would have been were he fit.
However, both Trott and Loudon are at important stages of developing their own games and could do without the added burden.
"The timing did come as a bit of a surprise to me," Warwickshire chief executive Colin Povey admitted. "But it's a measure of Heath's integrity and honesty that he feels this is right for the club.
"He remains a role-model for the young bowlers and we feel we're very lucky to have someone of the character of Darren to take over the captaincy."
There is encouraging precedent for such a move. As Robert Brooke recounts in his forthcoming biography of F R Foster, Warwickshire also changed their captain after the first championship game of 1911.
The original choice, Foster, stepped down pre-season to pursue a doomed love affair, leaving Captain Charles Cowan to take command.
One thrashing later, Foster was back in charge and, by the end of the summer, had led Warwickshire to their first championship title. What price a repeat in 2007?
Streak is not a certainty to play against Sussex at Edgbaston today. He is suffering from some soreness in the back and will undergo a fitness test this morning.
As a result, veteran allrounder Dougie Brown makes his first appearance in the first-team squad this season.
Neil Carter will have an operation on his knee tomorrow and is out of action for at least four weeks.
Ashley Giles, meanwhile, returns to England later this week. Despite having recently undergone a third operation on his hip and another on his groin, he remains hopeful of a return to action, possibly as early as June.
Such optimism is laudable, but increasingly appears naive.
Today's opponents present tough opposition. Although they have won the championship twice in the last four years, they have not beaten Warwickshire at Edgbaston since 1983 (16 games) and have lost three of their last four visits. They are also without Luke Wright (side strain) and Michael Yardy (broken finger).
The pitch is green, though true, but is likely to help the spin of Mushtaq Ahmed as the game progresses.
Both sides are likely to want to bat first, though there should be help for the seamers early on.