Preview: Lancashire v Warwickshire, Specsavers County Championship

Dougie Brown knows that Warwickshire face a stern test when they return to Specsavers County Championship action against surprise early-season pace-setters Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford on Monday.

The Red Rose are top of the table after making a strong start to their return to Division One following promotion last season, which was their first under the command of former Bears director of cricket Ashley Giles.

Lancashire v Warwickshire is always a fixture with plenty of edge as two big clubs with big support-bases lock horns. And just now it has an extra dimension. After all, it's not every championship match where the opposing directors of cricket were best man at each other's wedding.

"There is an extra element to the match, of course, because Ash and I are very good friends and know each other unbelievably well," said Brown.

"We are in different camps now but still meet and chat about what's going on and about cricket in general. There's absolutely no harm in that.

"Ash knows a lot about most of our guys, of course, having been director of cricket here until quite recently. But it doesn't matter how much people know about you, if you are good players playing to the best of your abilities you should find yourself in a strong position.

"That's what we will be aiming to do - build a strong position and then push on and maximise it.

"We know it will be a tough game. Lancashire have started the season really well and are quite buoyant. They have a good method which seems to suit their team and their players all knows their roles within the team which is so important.

"But we played some good championship cricket in the opening games of the season and are really looking to getting back out there with the red ball."

Like all counties, the Bears must readjust to four-day cricket in a phase of the season in which all three formats feature. After a flurry of 50-over games, the Bears face 20-over games on Friday and Sunday before the championship resumes on Monday, the schedule throwing them into all three formats in a week.

"It's not ideal but it's the same for every county and certainly no excuse for not performing in any of the formats," said Brown. "As a coach and a player you just focus on what is immediately in front of you and your thoughts are on that alone.

"We are really looking forward to returning to championship action because we know that four strong days and a good result against Lancashire would put us right up among the leaders."

Lancashire-born all-rounder Keith Barker will return to the Bears' squad having recovered from the ankle-impingement which ruled him out of the early 50-over North Group games.

"We would like Barks to be available for 50-over cricket because we know he could play a significant role with the two new balls and bowling with the Kookaburra," Brown said. "But the key for us was getting him right for the championship game at Old Trafford."

Warwickshire Squad

  • Ian Bell (Captain)
  • Mark Adair
  • Tim Ambrose (Wicket-Keeper)
  • Keith Barker
  • Varun Chopra
  • Rikki Clarke
  • Sam Hain
  • Oliver Hannon-Dalby
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Josh Poysden
  • Boyd Rankin
  • Jonathan Trott
  • Andy Umeed

Brian Halford

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