Warwickshire County Cricket Club
Warwickshire is one of the 18 major county cricket clubs that make up the English domestic cricket structure, and in recent times, one of the most successful. The team represents the county of Warwickshire, which incorporates the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Warwick and Leamington Spa. Its home is the leafy area of Edgbaston, Birmingham. However, rumours have emerged recently that they may move to the City of Birmingham stadium if, and when, it is built.
Warwickshire boasts a long and prestigious history as a county cricket club. The most golden period being during the late 1990s when they won numerous top-flight titles, including the famous history-making treble in 1994.
The Early Years
Warwickshire County Cricket Club, also now known as ”The Bears”, was founded officially in 1882. It was born of the agreement between a local schoolmaster, William Hansell, the Warwickshire Gentleman’s club and various representatives from large county towns, including Leamington Spa and Birmingham. In 1886, after some difficulty, Warwickshire finally acquired a secure home on meadowland near the River Rea, on the Calthorpe estate. The first fixture was played in June that year against an MCC team.
It was not until May 1894, however, that the first official match was played over 3 days against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. The development of Warwickshire as a top county cricket side was, from that point, staggeringly quick. By the time the first County Championship was underway late in the 1890s, they had already gained a reputation as tough competition, feared by more established, “old-school” county sides such as Surrey and Yorkshire. In fact, they stunned the cricket world in this era by beating Surrey at The Oval and Nottinghamshire. In this period the club were a strong batting side, but severely lacked strength in the bowling department and hence languished mid-table. Later, with the arrival of new players such as Frank Field and Sam Hargreave in 1899, their bowling strengthened, but ironically their batting then weakened, leaving them in no better a position.
The situation began to pick up in the first decade of the 20th century. With the incorporation of the greatly improved fast bowler, Frank Foster, in 1910, coupled with an improvement in Field’s form, Warwickshire began to win games. By 1911 Foster was on fire, top-ranked in the batting and bowling averages and that year Warwickshire took the County Championship title from the clutches of The Big 6 counties. Sadly, however, Foster had an accident in 1919 that ended his short career, and with this major loss, it was a long time until Warwickshire recuperated as a squad and once again, became a strong county side.
From these early, humble beginnings, Warwickshire has built a proud history. They have always produced and nurtured top players and regularly featured among the top teams in English county cricket. It was not until the 1960s, however, that they seriously began to establish themselves as a top competitive county cricket team. In 1962, first class seam bowler, Tom Cartwright, arrived and almost as a direct result, in 1964, they came second in the county league. By the early 1970s the team was even stronger and in 1971 they again finished in second place. But one of the most memorable moments in the club’s history came the following year, when they claimed the county championship title, largely owing to some quite brilliant batting.
After another period of decline in terms of success, things picked up again in the early 1980s. Bob Woolmer took charge of the coaching of the team in 1982 and Dermot Reeve the captaincy and this, plus one of the three permitted foreign players (Brian Lara, Shaun Pollock or Allan McDonald) made Warwickshire a high-flyer again. In this period they possessed one of the strongest Warwickshire teams in history. In 1989 they claimed the Natwest Trophy, but it was their astonishing victory in 1993 in the same competition, in which they overturned a record score in the final, previously held by Sussex.
Without a doubt, the most memorable year in history came the following year, 1994. Warwickshire triumphantly and historically claimed the treble, winning the County Championship, Axa Equity & Law League (now National Cricket League) and Benson & Hedges Cup. This was also the year which stands out in the memory of all cricket fans, when Brian Lara managed his world record 501 not out against Durham, a game in which the team declared 810-4, also a county championship record. More silverware was acquired in 1995, when they once again won the County Championship and also the C&G trophy. In ’97 they lifted the AXA trophy once again.
Unfortunately, over the next few years the team experienced a real dip in overall performance, and were, in fact relegated from the first division in the County Championship and National Cricket Leagues. In 2002 they regained their place in the top flight and that season also saw them win the Benson & Hedges Cup. By 2004 they had reclaimed the County Championship and are now playing top flight cricket in both divisions.
Great Warwickshire Players
Perhaps the first great player Warwickshire ever exhibited, his famous partnership with Frank Foster produced the 1911 league victory in that exceptionally dry summer, with dry pitches suited to his fast full length style.
Foster was a great all rounder, with a brilliant early career that was tragically cut short by injury in World War 1. He was an extremely effective left hand medium fast bowler, who could add spin so that the speed of the ball increased following the bounce.
Dermot Reeve captained Warwickshire between 1993-96, a golden period in which he guided them to the historical treble (County Championship, the AXA Equity and Law League and the Benson & Hedges Cup) and the other cup victories that followed (the County Championship and NatWest Trophy). He was an unorthodox all-rounder.
The greatest Warwickshire cricketer ever, Lara was quite simply prodigious at international and county level, his most memorable moment being his astonishing world record 501 not out against Durham in 1994, at a time when the success of Warwickshire as a team was peaking. Lara was instrumental in the flurry of trophies that they claimed during the mid to late 1990s.
Known as The Bears, Warwickshire have been playing Twenty20 cricket since 2003 and their first game was against Somerset in Taunton when they won by 19 runs. That season they continued to defeat Worcestershire (by 20 runs), Glamorgan (by 68 runs), and Northamptonshire (by 54 runs). Consequently, they finished second in the Midlands, West and Wales Division behind Gloucestershire, therefore gaining qualification for the finals day as best runner-up.
First, Warwickshire had to face Leicestershire in their semi-final, whom they beat by 7 wickets. In the final it was Warwickshire vs. Surrey. Unfortunately, Warwickshire were only able to score 115 runs and Surrey quickly claimed victory.
Despite the disappointment of the first season’s final defeat, expectations were high at Warwickshire for the following season. In the first game, they played Somerset, winning by 7 wickets. After a rocky ride in the first round, they just about managed to gain qualification by defeating Gloucestershire in the final game. But this time The Bears exited the competition in the Quarters, knocked out by Glamorgan.
The format of the competition changed in 2005, with 8 games to be played in the first round. Warwickshire gained qualification, but once again bowed out in the Quarter finals, losing to Surrey. In 2006, they did not make the knockout stages of the competition, finishing 3rd in the mini-league but worse off than both Yorkshire and Kent, who gained qualification places. In 2007, they recruited twenty20 expert Darren Maddy for the 2007 season, but his expertise only enabled them once again to reach the quarter finals of this tough competition.
The official website of Warwickshire County Cricket Club is:
where all the information regarding fixtures, news and tickets can be found.
Tickets for Warwickshire games can now be purchased through their website. Simply click on the following link:
or, alternatively, direct from the Edgbaston ground, which is located between the Edgbaston and Pershore Roads, accessible from various Junctions of the M42, M40, M5 or M6, as shown very effectively on the following map: