Ashley Giles has called upon his Warwickshire team to restore the “resilience” to their cricket when they face Sussex in the county championship at Edgbaston starting today.
While the eyes of the cricket world turn towards Cardiff, the Bears and Sussex embark on a skirmish which, if perhaps not quite as momentous as the Ashes, is not short of significance to the county championship First Division.
Warwickshire have only Worcestershire below them in the table and badly need to win a match at the sixth attempt to prevent their season evolving into a relegation struggle.
Sussex will arrive buoyed by their progress to the Friends Provident Trophy final but uneasily placed in the championship, only one place and 12 points above the Bears having played a match more.
Warwickshire must deal with the loss of off-spinner Jeetan Patel from an attack which has struggled badly for potency in four-day cricket this season but the familiar concerns over the bowling have spread to the batting.
The Bears’ top order, which will include Ian Bell barring a late injury to one of England’s batsmen, was in fine fettle early in the season but has endured a couple of torrid weeks, first at the hands of Durham’s Graham Onions and Steve Harmison and then England’s James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff.
In those two matches Ian Westwood scored 23 in four completed innings, Jonathan Trott 76 in three, Jim Troughton 26 in four and Tim Ambrose 26 in three.
Clearly, the batsmen need to reboot and the bowlers to improve, though Giles remains right behind his team.
“We need to get back the resilience that we showed in the first couple of games,” the director of cricket said. “I have got every confidence in our bowlers and our batsmen. We just need to get the two elements firing together.
“We have played some good championship cricket this season, especially early on, but it would be great to get a win under our belts.
“The batsmen have been roughed up a little bit in the last two games and we were skittled on the second morning against England but that was by two world-class bowlers bowling pretty close to their peak.”
Warwickshire’s quest for bowling incision has not been helped by the loss of paceman Boyd Rankin for this match to international duty. Ant Botha is expected to recover from a sore knee to supply a spin option but the need for impetus from an overseas fast bowler is huge,
“We are making a lot of inquiries about another overseas player,” Giles said. “But it is a complicated business and could take a bit of time.”
At least Bell will be back, barring any of England’s top order suffering a late injury – a shoulder strain, for example, incurred while stretching to disgracefully goad spectators as Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen did at the end of England’s warm-up match at Edgbaston last week.
One expects crassness – indeed nothing else – from Pietersen but it was depressing to see the England captain, a man widely lauded as decent, join in.
Taken with other examples of arrogance from the national squad over the three days, the phrase ‘Who do these people think they are?’ sprung to mind.