What was the secret of Warwickshire’s success this year?
Congratulations to Warwickshire. The Bears have come good at last and won the county championship. After being cruelly denied the title on the final day of last season, when they couldn’t prise out seven wickets on a pitch with less life in it than an Ian Chappell commentary stint, they fully deserve their success this time round.
They were the most consistent side in the country, so their rivals can have no complaints – even though, as a Worcestershire fan, it pains me to say so.
We imagine the media will make this story about Ashley Giles, and speculate that he might one day become England coach, so we’re going to concentrate on Warwickshire’s players instead. Not that the ‘King of Spain’ hasn’t done a good job in extremely challenging personal circumstances – we just like to be different.
What strikes us about Warwickshire’s team is the number of players who once looked destined for the scrap heap.
Remember Jim Troughton, that bloke who looked totally out of his depth in an ODI series in 2003? He’s their captain. His international career might have lasted just two and a half weeks, but his county career has lasted more than a decade – even though he averaged just 6 in the championship this year until June. This season has been a triumph for a batsman who is better known for being the grandson of Patrick Troughton (who once starred as Dr Who) than scoring big runs.
Remember Tim Ambrose, that bloke who played for England briefly after Geraint Jones was given the flick? He’s their keeper. Ambrose had a terrible 2011 in which he scored less runs than Chris Martin would have made against the Windies attack of the 1980s. His career looked over – until now. Ambrose has been in great form recently and played a key role in Warwickshire’s success.
Remember Rikki Clarke, the man who makes Eric Pickles look handsome? Clarke has been around the block a few times in county cricket and looked like he was going to retire early at one point. Instead he’s been rejuvenated at Warwickshire and provides stability and balance to the Warwickshire team. Some journalists have even tipped him for an England recall.
Remember Varun Chopra, the former England U-19 captain who led his side to an 11-0 defeat against Bangladesh? The guy who was realised by Essex because he failed to make the grade? Well, he’s resurfaced as Warwickshire’s star opening batsman. He’s scored runs for fun this season.
Remember Ian Blackwell, the rotund slogger who played for England a few times but can’t get into the Durham side now? He’s been on loan at Warwickshire this season and performed pretty well. He scored 84 in the first innings as the Bears thrashed Worcs and won the title.
Remember Keith Barker? Well, you won’t unless you support either Blackburn Rovers or Rochdale. He used to be a professional footballer, but realised he was about as good as Emile Heskey so he turned to cricket instead. Barker has taken wickets consistently all season and his first class record is very impressive.
I could go on. The Warwickshire team is full on unsung heroes. Did you know that Darren Maddy (yes him) still plays for them? In fact, the only one of their players who gets any media attention is Chris Woakes, who actually missed the first half of the season through injury. He was also on England duty when The Bears bowled out Worcestershire for just 60 a few days ago.
Who needs stars eh? When it comes to comes to winning the county championship, the ‘bear necessities’ are obviously hard work, teamwork and determination. Well done lads. Bear hugs all round?