The phrase ‘it’s was just one of those days’ has been used rather often of late about Warwickshire.
The debacle of Cardiff was certainly ‘one of those days,’ according to the club’s director of cricket, Ashley Giles as, according to captain Darren Maddy, was the batting performance against Essex. The whole championship game at Grace Road was described that way, too.
The thing is, if the phrase is used so often, it suggests such displays are the theme and not the exception. The implication of having heard it so much of late is that Warwickshire really aren’t playing very well.
Certainly Warwickshire’s form going into the start of Wednesday's championship game against Derbyshire at Edgbaston is a concern. They have not passed 400 in the last four championship games, meaning they have dropped several bonus points, and look overly reliant on a couple of batsmen - Jonathan Trott and Jim Troughton.
The fielding is also puzzling. While Warwickshire are surely the best fielding side in the division, they have dropped a number of disproportionately costly chances. Such moments can change seasons.
Yet the club remains unbeaten in the championship - the only unbeaten team in the country - and sit in second place. If they can only rediscover the form they showed in Uxbridge, promotion beckons.
Whether that would really be in the club’s long-term interests is debatable. While it is only natural for players and supporters to crave promotion, there is, on current form, little indication that Warwickshire would survive at the higher level. The prospect of another relegation battle is hardly appetising.
The bowling looks the stronger suit at present. While the attack might not be the sort to blow sides away, they play the attritional game very well.
The swing of Chris Woakes, the pace of Chris Martin and the spin pairing give the club a balance and variety that they have not had for some time. Warwickshire are still hopeful that Martin will agree to return next year and are expecting a firm answer before the end of this season.
There is little doubt that new recruits remain absolutely vital if the club is to prosper. That does not mean that youth development does not remain paramount, but it is surely naïve to hope that a couple of world-beaters are suddenly going to emerge from the youth teams.
How Warwickshire could do with an all-rounder who has taken 89 championship wickets since the start of 2007. Alas, the picaresque Graham Wagg will be part of the Derbyshire team at Edgbaston. He was deemed as too much trouble when, with better management, he could have flourished at Edgbaston.
For the record, he was not offered another deal by Warwickshire following his drugs ban and, though he did talk to the club, he was invited to meet in the Midlands Art Centre because of his on-going ban from the ground. Whether any player would have felt wanted under such circumstances is highly unlikely.
Another man who could have been handled better is Lee Daggett. Though the decision to release him at the end of the season was sad but understandable, the on-going resistance in allowing him the best chance to find a new club is harder to justify.
Certainly the suggestion that he could convince Warwickshire to offer him another contract is risible bearing in mind that he has been omitted from the Second XI side due to play Leicestershire today.
As things stand, Daggett has less than a week to secure himself a loan deal this season. The deadline for such registrations is August 31 and Warwickshire have declined his mother’s offer to pay up his contract.
It is understood, however, that Ashley Giles is now happy for Daggett to go but that Colin Povey remains adamant that Warwickshire should receive payment from the other club; almost certainly Leicestershire.
Such a standpoint is understandable but surely misplaced. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Leicestershire’s position, Warwickshire have the opportunity to take the high moral ground and help a former player facing impending unemployment.
There will also be repercussions. Warwickshire are currently trying, without success, to attract new players to the club, but this incident does nothing to make Edgbaston seem welcoming.
The Professional Cricketers’ Association - the players’ union - has expressed their disappointment at the club’s actions and the danger is that Warwickshire are developing a reputation - a largely unfair reputation - for being uncaring employers. The cricketing world is not large and word gets around very fast.
The problem is that the negatives outweigh the positives in such situations. While Povey is getting many of the big issues - such as the ground redevelopment - right, he is in danger of losing support due to his handling of apparently minor matters.
Whether it has been increases in membership fees, car parking, or the hard-line stance over Daggett, the accumulative effects are, perhaps, more damaging than he realises and will detract from anything else he achieves.
‘Daggett-gate’ is likely to be one of the issues that crops up at Wednesday evening's members’ forum. The other issue that will feature is that of half-year membership and access to the membership discount for Ashes tickets.
There is more than a little anger among regular members that their loyalty has been exploited while newcomers have utilised the discounts only to sell tickets which will end up in the hands on to touts.
The end result could see the members’ area full of non-members, while those who actually own the club are obliged to sit in public areas.
Whether they will be mollified by the news that membership prices are set to rise by relatively modest amounts next season - broadly in line with inflation - remains to be seen. Some of the incentive for membership certainly appears to have been reduced.
* It’s not every day you find members of the cast of Emmerdale and Dad’s Army rubbing shoulders with Warwickshire and England cricketers, but it does promise to be the case at Harborne Cricket Club on September 14.
The club will be hosting a game against a Fairbridge XI with the aim of raising £30,000 for inner-city youth charity Fairbridge West Midlands.
The celebrity team will be captained by Chris Tarrant and contain Nick Hancock (from They Think It’s All Over), Sir Geoff Hurst, Devon Malcolm, Gladstone Small, Ian Lavender of Eastenders and Dad’s Army fame, Nicholas Parsons, umpire Ray Julian, Chris Cowdrey, Jason Gallian and Frazier Hines of Emmerdale. Warwickshire’s Michael Powell will be in the Harborne side.
Play starts at 2pm. Spectators can turn up on the day and watch the game for £2.50 per person, or if you want to do it in style, can buy a table in the marquee which will entitle them to a three course meal, wine and afternoon tea for ten people, plus the opportunity to mingle with the celebrities.
Refreshments and car parking will be available at the ground. For further information contact Claire Rigby at Fairbridge on 0121 773 1538 or email email@example.com.