By Paul Bolton
Warwickshire first team coach Jim Troughton has admitted that his players face a year of hard graft if they are to have any chance of returning to Division One of the County Championship at the first time of asking.
After a decade of success in which they won all three domestic trophies, Warwickshire have been the top flight’s whipping boys this season and will play Second Division cricket for the first time since 2008 next year.
A post mortem into why a Bears squad that includes former Test players Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Tim Ambrose and Boyd Rankin fared so poorly will take place in the coming weeks but Troughton says his players have been honest in their assessment of a wretched season.
“The first thing the senior guys said after relegation was confirmed after the Essex match was, ‘make no bones about it, we deserve to be where we are right now’,” Troughton said.
“We have no right to say, ‘oh, we have to go here or we have to go there next season’. We are where we deserve to be and we are going to have to respect the division we are going into and we are going to have to play well if we want to come straight back up.
“I don’t think any of the players in this group think it’s a given that we will come straight back up. We are going to have to work extremely hard and play good cricket consistently if we are going to have any chance of doing that.”
Warwickshire have already started regenerating their ageing squad by bringing in Dominic Sibley from Surrey, Adam Hose from Somerset and Will Rhodes from Yorkshire and introducing some of their homegrown youngsters but Troughton acknowledges that it is a process that should have started some time ago.
“Our Championship cricket has been frustrating, very disappointing, but, if you look at it, the warning signs were there for a couple of seasons,” he said.
“There was a bit of, ‘well, let’s see what happens’, rather being proactive and recognising that if we are standing still and other sides are starting to improve then we are effectively going backwards.
“At the beginning of the year the chief executive asked me what was my biggest fear and it was that we weren’t where we used to be in four-day cricket and you get shown up for that.”