Warwickshire are likely to face a fully-fit and rebooted Andrew Caddick when they open their County Championship season against Somerset at Taunton on Wednesday.
The Bears have an opening fixture as tough as it is intriguing against a Somerset side with realistic ambitions to lift the title in 2009 for the first time.
The westcountrymen have lost Ian Blackwell to Durham but still have Marcus Trescothick and Justin Langer heading an eye-catching batting line-up. Vice-captain Trescothick believes that, at the other end of the scorecard, 40-year-old Caddick retains the quality to put an injury-troubled 2008 behind him.
“Caddy will be the ‘X factor’ that we need,” said Trescothick. “He could do for us what Steve Harmison did for Durham when they won the title last year.
“He is 40 but he is still bowling well in the nets and warming up and getting miles in his legs. In 2007, when we won Division Two, he was the difference between us and everybody else. The guys know we still need him going forward.”
Somerset are hoping that Caddick can rekindle his new-ball partnership with South African left-arm swing bowler Charl Willoughby, backed up by former Warwickshire seamer Alfonso Thomas.
The Bears’ attack, meanwhile, will lack the overseas pace spearhead for which director of cricket Ashley Giles was hunting for much of the winter. Indeed, Warwickshire start the season with no overseas input as New Zealand spinner Jeetan Patel still waits for a visa.
Patel has an appointment with the bureaucrats in his native Wellington tomorrow which should get the process moving, but it remains touch and go whether the Kiwi will make it to Birmingham even for the second championship match, at home to Hampshire, starting on April 22.
With no Patel and, for Somerset, no Blackwell, spin is unlikely to figure much this week. Whether Warwickshire will have Ant Botha to supply a slow left-arm option will become clearer today when he sees a specialist to assess how his tennis elbow problem has responded to an injection into it last Wednesday.