CRICKET: Captain Bell on Bears’ defence of Royal London Cup

Ian Bell
Ian Bell

Warwickshire start campaign at Northampton tomorrow (Thursday) with a lot of confidence around the squad in 50-over cricket

Warwickshire will start their defence of the Royal London Cup, away to Northants Steelbacks, tomorrow (Thursday) determined to carry on where they left off in 50-over cricket last year.

The Bears begin their 2017 RL Cup campaign seven months after lifting the 2016 trophy by trouncing Surrey in the final on a memorable September day at Lord’s.

The joy of that day, with the Bears’ supporters army in full voice, has appeared a distant memory in recent weeks during a disappointing start to the Specsavers County Championship for Ian Bell’s side.

It has been a worrying time for those fans. But for Princethorpe College student Bell believes his team is more than capable of delivering more happy days for their followers in the 50-over format.

“There is a lot of confidence around the squad in 50-over cricket,” the captain, from Dunchurch, said. “Last year we lost our first two games but then built our momentum brilliantly and peaked at the right time with our best performance of all coming in the final at Lord’s.

“That was an incredible day with the Bears fans generating such a great atmosphere. We are very lucky that we are amazingly supported - and we are going to need that support over the next year or so.

“It has been a tough start for us in the championship and, as a club and as individual players, when results aren’t going to plan we need our supporters to stick with us and boost us. That was certainly the case in the RL Cup last year. Across the formats our cricket wasn’t consistently at the level we wanted it to be, but the support and the backing our fans gave us, and always give us in tough times, was very important.

“That support is really appreciated in the dressing-room and we are trying our hardest every day to improve in all formats. We will get there.”

A Lord’s final is a long way off for all the counties as they start their Royal London Cup trail with a flurry of group games to negotiate over the next three weeks.

After starting at Northampton tomorrow, the Bears will face Durham at Edgbaston next Monday then travel to Leicestershire the following day.

“Games will come thick and fast so we need to start strongly,” Bell said. “The 50-over group stage has come early this season so will be played in slightly different conditions. It’s going to be exciting and the fact that the 50-over cricket comes in a block is better for players because it means that you can get into one format and stick to that, practice it and get into your routines and be really clear about what you are going to do.

“It will be a tough start at Northants because they are a dangerous side. They play very well at home and are confident in white-ball cricket and always come out strong. It will be a big challenge for us first up but, individually, players have to step up into their roles and score runs and take wickets.

“We’ve had a tough start and little bit of patience is going to be required but my message to the guys is that we have to fight. If we get knocked down we come back harder. We will never give in, whatever happens.”