Troughton targets title tilt
Jim Troughton admits Warwickshire are champing at the bit to begin their title challenge after falling agonisingly short last season.
By Joe Drabble - Twitter: @SkySportsDrabs
Last Updated: 10/04/12 1:54pm
Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton admits his players are champing at the bit to begin their County Championship title challenge after falling agonisingly short of achieving "the pinnacle" last season.
Troughton's men missed out on landing their first LV= County Championship Division One title since 2004 on a dramatic final day of the 2011 campaign when, after only managing a draw at Hampshire, Lancashire pipped the Bears to the post with victory at Somerset.
Warwickshire were not in action during this season's first round of county fixtures, but start their campaign against fellow title hopefuls Somerset at Edgbaston on Thursday.
And, after a successful pre-season trip to Barbados, Troughton admits he and his players cannot wait to get back on the field and begin their latest tilt at the title.
He told skysports.com: "As soon as we walked off the field at the Rose Bowl last season I think the guys were already thinking about this year, starting again as quickly as possible.
"To get a taste of getting that close is something that as a county player you don't get too often - the Championship is the pinnacle of your career. Last year was a great year but it's over now and we need to focus on the first game against Somerset.
"We've just come back from our pre-season tour in Barbados and it went really well. A third of the counties were out there so the competition was very good, the facilities were great and it was a very well organised tournament. The guys are back ready and we're all set for the first game."
Warwickshire's title challenge last summer came as a surprise to many, not least the bookmakers, who priced the Midlanders up among the favourites for relegation rather than the title.
However, a long batting line-up and diverse bowling attack proved a winning combination on nine occasions as Ashley Giles' men threatened top honours.
Troughton admits his side may have been taken lightly by the opposition last year, adding: "That was our ethos in four-day cricket last year really - no-one will see us coming, no-one will expect us to achieve and that's what fired us to perform.
"I've challenged the guys to go out there and not look too far ahead and look after each session, win each delivery and each battle. That's the challenge, forget about last year, be ruthless, be consistent this year, do the basics better than the opposition and if we do that I'm confident we'll be up near the top of the table."
Warwickshire have made the signing of pace bowler Chris Wright from Essex permanent after his successful spell with the county at the end of last season.
The 26-year-old will have a big part to play in the early stages of the season following injuries to key pace duo Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin, however captain Troughton has backed his new recruit to step up to the plate.
"He was the injection we needed at the back end of last season," Troughton added. "He bowled incredibly well for us and he's going to be a good introduction for us early season where he swings the ball at good pace. In one-day cricket he is strong as well so he will add that dimension to our one-day game.
"It's disappointing that we've lost Chris Woakes to injury but hopefully with the bowlers we've got and the all-rounders we can pick up the slack that's he's going to leave."
The Bears endured a torrid limited-overs campaign last term, failing to progress from the group stages of either the Clydesdale Bank40 or the Friends Life t20 as first-class commitments seemingly took priority.
Troughton admits the club have addressed their one-day woes over the winter, where they reached the final of the Banks Barbados T20 Cup, and is confident there is enough limited-overs quality to challenge in all forms this term.
He added: "Our T20 form since 2003 has been good. Last year was our weakest year, we didn't adapt quickly enough to losing Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Imran Tahir, Neil Carter and Ant Botha, who are big players in our one-day team.
"We've had to reflect and look a bit about how we're going to go about our one-day cricket. We've got the tools, we've got the players and the skills, we put a few things into practice in Barbados and we'll look to use home advantage better this season."