Bubbling Bears up for derby battle with Worcestershire

LV County Championship

Worcestershire and Warwickshire will meet for the first time this season at New Road on Wednesday having undergone vastly differing starts to the summer.

Worcestershire were this summer's first losers when they were spun to a nine-wicket defeat by Yorkshire's Adil Rashid inside three days at New Road.

Warwickshire, by contrast, then went to Taunton last week and beat Somerset by a county record innings and 382 runs.

It points to 2011's first 'Pears-Bears' derby battle going Warwickshire's way.

But, even as he prepares for the County Championship Division One meeting with a confidence-sapped Worcestershire, new Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton admits that the job will not always go as smoothly as it did for the Bears over three remarkable days at Taunton.

"It's all downhill from here," joked Troughton. "Losing the toss, then scoring 600 and rolling a team over."

But, after seeing Chris Woakes and Rikki Clarke bowl out Championship title favourites Somerset for just 50 by mid-afternoon on their usually run-filled Taunton track, Troughton admitted: "I'm happy, the team's happy and that's all that matters to me.

Jim Troughton
Jim Troughton took over as captain following Ian Westwood's resignation

"But we're not going to get giddy. We're still deemed a side that no one sees coming.

"We're just going to get on with our business, which is to score heavily and take 20 wickets."

Warwickshire only stayed up thanks to the late season roll that saw them win their last three Championship matches.

But, although now under new leadership, the Bears have simply carried on where they left off last season.

"Some of the experiences we faced last year stay in the mind and we can use that positively," said Bears director of cricket Ashley Giles.

"We've started to do that. It's important that confidence starts from the very first game."

Last summer, Warwickshire failed to get maximum batting points in any of their 16 Championship matches.

But, even though they were still denied the servies of England pair Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, they ran up the sixth highest total in their history, 642, built on Varun Chopra' double century and 129 from Chris Woakes.

"I said pre-season that when someone gets past 50 they'll make someone pay," Troughton told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. "And that's what Chops has done."

The Bears now have the added 'nice problem to have' of how to slot in overseas signing Mohammed Yousuf, who was unavailable for the opening fixture.

As for the bowling attack, although Woakes' outstanding start to the season will obviously bring him back on to the England radar, after doing what they did to a batting side like Somerset, Troughton is now optimistic that they have the potential to finish teams off.

"They're well up there in terms of pace, in terms of consistency and movement," he added. "It was a fantastic effort.

"Last year we could have won games and weren't really used to being in the positions of taking the game by the scruff of the neck and hitting the hammer blow.

"But we've been there now. We can recognise moments in games when we need to step up a gear and we did exactly that."

For Steve Rhodes' Worcestershire, having suffered the rare experience of being outwitted by a visiting spinner at New Road in April, after that opening defeat to Yorkshire, the only way is up.

"It's important to learn from your mistakes," director of cricket Rhodes told BBC Hereford and Worcester. "And we have had some quality work in the nets.

Mohammed Yousuf
Yousuf's last visit to England came in last summer's Fourth Test at Lord's

"The batting was the obvious disappointment against Yorkshire. It's not rocket science that we need to occupy the crease and build up partnerships.

"We have to make sure we maximise overs 50 to 80. That's when the balls go soft and it's easier to bat."

While the Bears work out how to best to slot in Yousuf, newly-promoted Worcestershire will be unchanged - and determined to put right their false start as they once again bid to stay up.

"Warwickshire are going to come here full of confidence after a magnificent win against Somerset. And Chris Woakes is a fantastic player, who has proved it this winter with bat and the ball. He is a young man with a bright future.

"They could not have started better and will come here bouncing. But it up to us to douse their enthusiasm and make sure we come out on top.

"We start this game on 0-0 whoever's batting."