Ashley Giles believes Warwickshire will enter the 2011 season with a settled squad reinforced by some “very good additions.”
The new season starts this week though the Bears will miss the first round of championship games and begin their campaign away to Somerset at Taunton starting on April 14.
Their championship programme last year was a bizarre combination of extremes.
After starting off with several close and highly entertaining games, some won and some lost, their batting fell apart spectacularly to leave them bottom of the table in August and apparently doomed to relegation.
An equally spectacular late rally brought four wins in the last five matches, culminating in an Ian Bell-powered victory over Hampshire at The Rose Bowl to secure a First Division status which had appeared lost.
But director of cricket Giles wants to see much greater consistency from his team this summer.
He is happy with a squad he is taking into the campaign under new captain Jim Troughton and bolstered by winter signings Will Porterfield and Laurie Evans, spinners Chris Metters and Maurice Homes who have signed summer contracts, and, as it stands at the moment, Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf as overseas player for the first six weeks.
Giles knows there is significant room for improvement on last season. But he also asserts that Warwickshire also did plenty right during that curious summer.
“We won as many championship games as the team which finished in second place,” he said.
“If we had won the first game against Yorkshire and drawn perhaps five of the nine we lost that’s another 15 points and another 20-25 batting points, which isn’t out of the question considering how many we got, and suddenly we would have been up there, probably winning the championship.
“We are into year four of what we are trying to do here and I am happy where we are at.
"We have a pretty settled squad. We haven’t changed a hell of a lot during the winter but I the additions we have made this year are very good ones: Will Porterfield, Kevin Evans, a couple of young spinners. As a coach you always want more but we have a good bunch.
“We went through some some dark times last season but the guys can be very proud of the way they finished in the championship and also winning the Clydesdale 40.
“I think maybe we should perhaps enjoy trophies more than we do because you win one and almost straight away start thinking ‘right what about the next one next year’.
“Last year’s trophy was our first knockout win since 2002 and that is a major achievement and people should be very proud of the contributions they made to it.”
First up for Warwickshire this time round will be that four-day visit to title favourites Somerset. Last time the sides met, the Bears ended the day jubilant after winning the Clydesdale 40 final at Lord’s but Somerset twice made short work of Warwickshire in four-day cricket last year, winning by nine wickets at Taunton and 181 runs at Edgbaston.
“It will be a tough start but we look upon it as a good challenge,” Giles said. “I have spoken to Troughts about that and we should look forward to that game against Somerset because in my mind they are probably the favourites for the title going into this season.
“It will be an interesting test for us but one we are not afraid of right now and won’t be when it comes round.”