Warwickshire provide a peek into their future today as a young team begin the championship match at Gloucester.
Injuries to more experienced performers has left director of cricket, Ashley Giles, with a team of just six capped players and there are two teenagers in the 12-man squad.
It could well be, however, that this side is the nucleus of ‘the new Warwickshire’. They will have every opportunity to prove their worth over the next few weeks and, if they are successful, can expect to win prolonged runs in the side.
It may also prove harder than anticipated to recruit new players. Though the club have made formal approaches to a small army of players from other counties, it appears that the chances of signing most of them do not look good. Ed Joyce is believed to be heading to Hampshire and Owais Shah to Surrey while the lure of a benefit season could well be enough to convince both Steve Kirby and Alex Gidman to stay with Gloucestershire.
Warwickshire are also struggling to recruit an overseas signing for the Twenty20 Cup. Brian Lara is one name that has been suggested, but his salary demands - around £40,000 for the month - were thought to be somewhat excessive.
“It’s very difficult to find anyone suitable,” Giles admitted. “There are a few guys around but most of them have played in the [rebel] Indian Cricket League.
“We’ve been warned off trying to sign those players. It’s probably not an insurmountable problem, but it could take time to register them and it’s time we don’t really have.”
As things stand, the Indian cricket board are still insisting that any clubs utilising such players will be ineligible for the fabled ‘Champions League.’ As that competition is yet to have a venue, format, sponsor or schedule, however, Warwickshire could be forgiven for giving short shrift to any attempt to exclude them from it. Besides, only the most optimistic supporter could be expecting Warwickshire to qualify for the league anyway.
Instead, Warwickshire are considering extending the stay of New Zealand fast bowler, Chris Martin, who has already agreed to join them for the championship campaign.
Martin’s deal is expected to be signed next week and Warwickshire have until then to decide whether they would like to utilise him for Twnety20 cricket as well. Bearing in mind that they had been after a top-order batsman, he is not an ideal replacement.
“I’m not expecting any dramas over him signing,” said Giles. “It could well be that we use him for the Twenty20, too. It’s up to us a bit. Obviously he’s not a like for like replacement for Sanath Jayasuriya or Luke Pomersbach, but he is a quality bowler and it is something that we’re thinking about.”
In the meantime, Warwickshire again field 11 players who are all qualified for England. Chris Woakes and Navdeep Poonia play just their second championship matches, while Calum MacLeod is included in the squad for the first time. “They’re all in a good place,” said Giles. “There’s a bit of pressure on them, but I believe they’re up to it and this is a great opportunity for them.”
Though currently bottom of the table, Gloucestershire have played two games fewer than many of their rivals. Kirby, Kadeer Ali, Carl Greenidge and David Brown are absent though injury for the hosts, while Ian Salisbury would have played for Warwickshire had he recovered from his calf strain.