It's a familiar refrain: decent batting; bowling lacks penetration.

It sums up Warwickshire's cricket for much of the last few years and, with Ashley Giles soon to depart on England duty, is not likely to alter.

Dewald Pretorius may be the answer as he returns to the County Championship side taking on Middlesex at Edgbaston today. Decidedly sharp of pace and capable of late movement, he adds a dimension to Warwickshire's attack.

Many Warwickshire supporters have yet to see the best of Pretorius. He was short of fitness and confidence last season and struggled to adapt to changes in his action suggested by the coaches. By September he looked desperate for the season to end and was but a peripheral part of the squad.

"I knew there was a lot of expectation in me last year and I didn't bowl well enough," said Pretorius. "It was a difficult year and I knew I had to work hard to make up for it."

He is admirably determined not to hide behind poor fortune for his shortcomings. Reminded of the quantity of catches dropped off his bowling - over a dozen - and of the featherbed pitches he encountered, he is dismissive.

"That's all part of the game. In the end it's up to me to deliver and I didn't bowl well enough last season," he said.

That character is part of the reason he is such an asset. For while his propensity to run through the opposition with the second new ball was in some ways infuriating - why the second and not the first? - it did show the spirit to keep sprinting in, even after several hours in the field.

"I've got a point to prove this year," he said. "I really want to fulfil the high expectations people had before I arrived. I want to repay the faith that has been shown in me.

"I'm much more confident as I'm fitter, stronger and my action is better. My head is together too, and I've worked incredibly hard. I can't wait to get started."

Pretorius' return is bad news for Nick Warren. Warren has bowled pretty well this season and, with more experience, could develop into a fine cricketer.

He can perhaps count himself unfortunate not to win a place ahead of Neil Carter, who is quicker with the ball and more useful with the bat. But he is also eight years Warren's senior and has a bowling average of 39.75.

It means that none of the five young seamers that Warwickshire invested such hope in this winter are included, though the season is still young and their chances will surely come.

Batting-wise, Warwickshire are missing the freescoring Mark Wagh and Brad Hogg from last season's side, and became bogged down against Kent in their last fixture. It is a concern for, if the runs are not flowing, pressure builds and bowlers settle more easily.

Fast scoring also allows Warwickshire's attack more time to bowl out the opposition twice. With Giles making his final Championship appearance of the season at Edgbaston, dismissing the opposition will become an increasing problem.

Justly proud though the team is of its unbeaten record (now 18 Championship games; eight short of the club record set between 1971 and 1973), they have a less impressive win rate: just six of their last 19 Championship games.

New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris is poised to make his Championship debut for Middlesex. Styris is not fully fit so will play only a limited role as a bowler. But as a batsman he is good enough to average 39.77 in Test cricket, and is renown for his strong temperament. Much hard work looms for Warwickshire's attack.

Perhaps that attack would be stronger if it included a certain Alan Richardson?

The 29- year- old seamer was allowed to leave Warwickshire in the autumn, but it is a measure of Richardson's popularity that everyone was delighted for his immediate success at his new club. His former team-mates all wish him well; just not in the next four days.

WARWICKSHIRE: N Knight, M Powell, I Bell, J Trott, A Loudon, D Brown, T Frost, A Giles, H Streak, N Carter, D Pretorius.

MIDDLESEX (from): B Hutton, A Strauss, E Smith, O Shah, E Joyce, S Styris, P Weekes, B Scott, C Keegan, P Hutchison, A Richardson, C Peploe, N Hayward.