It may only be a month into the season, but Ashley Giles is already looking to the future.
Warwickshire’s new director of cricket has reacted to an eventful few weeks by making formal attempts to sign a raft of new players.
Warwickshire have issued formal 28-day approaches for five players from other counties and also opened talks with at least two overseas players. It means Warwickshire have notified the players’ current counties about their intentions to open talks and must now wait four weeks before doing so.
The players concerned are: Alex Gidman (Gloucestershire’s 26-year-old batting all-rounder), Steve Kirby (Gloucestershire’s 30-year-old fast bowler), Graham Onions (Durham’s 25-year-old fast bowler), Stewart Walters (Surrey’s 24-year-old batsman) and David Sales (Northants’ 30-year-old batsman). All are England qualified and all are free to talk to other counties at the end of the season.
With the exception of Walters, who is viewed as a talented youngster, all have played for England A and can be considered among the best players on the county circuit. There is no doubt that their arrival would greatly strengthen Warwickshire’s squad.
I also understand that the club have approached Luke Pomersbach about playing for them in this season’s Twenty20 Cup as their overseas player. The Australian batsman has been recommended to the club by Trevor Penney, now coaching the player in Western Australia, and is currently doing well in the Indian Premier League with Kings XI (Punjab).
Though only 23-year-old, Pomersbach averages more than 50 in first-class cricket and has represented Australian in a Twenty20 international. He made an impressive century against England during the last Ashes tour and an even more impressive century against South Africa on their tour. Warwickshire and Pomersbach’s agent are currently in talks.
Chris Martin has reacted positively to early enquiries from the club about fulfilling the overseas role at the club when the New Zealand tour ends. It is hoped that the fast bowler will be available for at least six championship games.
Meanwhile, the club are also continuing to make progress with their redevelopment plans. The economic downturn has done little to encourage development partners, but the club remain in talks with several potential partners and aim to submit their planning application by October at the latest.
Though that is a few months later than originally planned, the club are still optimistic that building (or at least demolition) work will begin after the Ashes Test of 2009.
Birmingham City Council remain supportive. They have suggested that they will be happy to lend a substantial part of the money required (perhaps as much as £15 million) at an interest rate some way below that offered commercially, so long as Warwickshire supply a sound business plan and an "iconic" building. The council have also intimated that they would be prepared to lend over a period of up to 60 years, though a much shorter period would be preferable.
In order to complete a robust business plan, however, Warwickshire require the England and Wales Cricket Board to supply a longer term international staging agreement. At present, Edgbaston is guaranteed to host a Test only until 2012, but the club are meeting David Collier and Giles Clarke at the start of June.
The club have also made progress with acquiring a couple more properties on the Pershore Road. Of the 12 they require, only three are likely to prove problematic. And expensive.