It might not have quite the national resonance of the first Ashes Test but Warwickshire face a hugely important match of their own when they face Sussex at Edgbaston in the championship starting tomorrow.
The Bears resume their championship programme without a win after five games and in the bottom two of Division One, albeit with one or two games in hand of the teams around them.
Those teams include Sussex who are one place and twelve points above the Bears, having played one game more.
Already, in Warwickshire’s first season back in the top flight after promotion, it is a case of asking how many teams they might finish above. Worcestershire, clearly, are one.
Sussex, struggling with life after Mushtaq Ahmed and Chris Adams, could be another but they will arrive at their traditionally unhappy hunting ground of Edgbaston knowing that a rare win in Birmingham would spring them right up into mid-table.
A desperate harvest of just eight bowling points – exactly half as many as the next worst in Division One – from five games makes it abundantly clear where Warwickshire’s main problem lies. And now they must cope with another disruption to their modest armoury.
Spin-bowler Jeetan Patel will fly home to New Zealand today for treatment to a knee ligament injury in the hope that he will be fit for the Kiwis’ tour of Sri Lanka in August.
Patel was hardly a weapon of mass destruction in championship cricket, as figures of 90-4-399-6 reveal, but he would surely have improved in that format with some regular bowling in it.
Much of his seven weeks with Warwickshire was devoted to 20 or 50-over cricket.
The Bears’ hunt for a replacement overseas player, a fast bowler rather than another spinner, is in full throttle but unlikely to yield success before tomorrow. In the meantime, they hope that left-armer Ant Botha will be fit to provide a measure of specialist spin.
Botha missed the friendly against England last week after having an injection in a sore knee.
The former Derbyshire player is now set to head up the spin attack for the rest of this season. And while that might not be a prospect to thrill the Bears supporters it should be remembered that, back in April, Botha would have spun Warwickshire to victory over Hampshire with a six or seven-for if his colleagues had caught properly.
Botha bowled superbly that day and found his rhythm – then played just one more first-class match in the next six weeks. The architects of the county fixtures for 2009 have, of course, constructed a truly historic shambles with mid-May the lowlight. Perhaps next season the ECB should leave the fixtures to a gibbon with a crayon.