WARWICKSHIRE will be aiming to record their first home Specsavers County Championship win of the season when they take on Division One leaders Middlesex starting today.
The Bears are heading into September still to win at Edgbaston in four-day cricket, due not least to bad weather which had prevented them pressing home some strong positions.
But director of cricket Dougie Brown sees the visit of championship leaders Middlesex as a great opportunity for the Bears to display the all-round quality that they clearly possess but have not shown consistently enough this season.
They sit right in the middle of Division One, fifth in the table, knowing that one win from their last three games (against Middlesex then away to Somerset and at home to Lancashire) would make them safe from relegation while two or three wins could lift them into the prize-money places in the final table.
So the Bears have every incentive to inflict some damage on Middlesex’s hopes of winning the championship title for the first time since 1993.
“Middlesex have a lot to play for but so do we,” said Brown.
“The league is so tight this season that we know that a strong finish will push up right among the top two or three.
“I am not surprised to see Middlesex leading the table. They have some excellent players and a good method, rather like our own, with batters capable of scoring big runs and bowlers who are skilful but also disciplined enough to bowl well over a long period of time which is what you have to do win a game of championship cricket.
“But it’s up to us to go out there and show what we can do. After a couple of disappointing championship games we played some really good cricket in the draw at Durham last week and it was disappointing to lose pretty much a whole day when we were well on top.
“Ian Westwood’s century was a magnificent innings when batting conditions were still difficult after our bowlers had taken advantage of helpful conditions on the first day. It was just a shame that, after we lost the third day, batting conditions were very good on the last.”
Middlesex would love to bank the sort of emphatic victory at Edgbaston which, 23 years ago, took them a big stride towards the championship title. Back in 1993, their nine-wicket win was earned principally by spin with John Emburey and Philip Tufnell sharing 15 wickets.
Despite that success, however, Tufnell also displayed the uglier side to his game when, angered by Jason Ratcliffe’s insistence on waiting for an umpire’s decision, he lost his temper and had to be restrained by his team-mates.
Warwickshire squad: Bell (Captain), Ambrose (WK), Barker, Chopra, Clarke, Evans, Hain, Hannon-Dalby, Mellor (WK), Panayi, Patel, Poysden, Trott, Westwood, Wright.