Preview: Hampshire v Warwickshire, Specsavers County Championship

Warwickshire have named a 13-man squad for their opening Specsavers County Championship match of the season, away to Hampshire.

Ian Bell will lead the team in the championship for the first time since his appointment as club captain during the winter.

With all senior players fit and available, Bell and director of cricket Dougie Brown have some tough selections decisions to make when they pick the final 11 at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday morning.

"It will be interesting to see what happens."

Ian Bell, Captain

And after pre-season preparations which went well both on the trip to the United Arab Emirates and then back at Edgbaston, the captain believes the Bears are embarking upon the season in excellent shape.

“There's no doubt that this squad is good enough to challenge for trophies,” Bell said. “Our goal at the start of the season is to be involved in all three formats for as long as we can.

"A lot of very hard work lies ahead but we have a fantastic squad of players and, over the coming months, we will need them all to step up and perform. We have got some really good young players pushing the senior guys and it's great to see that generation coming through.”

The 2016 season-opener at Hampshire will be Warwickshire’s 2,474th match in the county championship – and the first in which they will turn up knowing they can bowl first if they wish. A change in regulations during the winter means that visiting teams have that choice in championship games this year.

"Our goal at the start of the season is to be involved in all three formats for as long as we can."

Ian Bell, Captain

"It will be interesting to see what happens," said Bell. "It might affect Division Two most because teams there are vying for promotion so prefer to play on result wickets. We'll see. In Division One a lot of teams bat first anyway so I don't think things will change too much.

"Our first two games are both away, against Hampshire and Middlesex, so we have the toss both times and that will be interesting, especially at somewhere like Lord's which I know reasonably well and if you get the right day at Lord's and its cloudy and overcast then it's a great opportunity and you desperately want to bowl first. But I don't think, as the season goes on, it will make too much of an impact."

Bears squad v Hampshire:

V.Chopra, I.Westwood, I.Bell*, J.Trott, L.Evans, S.Hain, T.Ambrose†, C.Woakes, R.Clarke, K.Barker, J.Patel, C.Wright and B.Rankin.

Brian Halford

Brian is Warwickshire's Club Journalist and has reported on the Bears since 2000.