Warwickshire first-team coach Jim Troughton has reflected upon a tough Royal London Cup campaign for his bowlers and asserted that, despite some pretty bracing figures, he is "very proud of them."
The Bears face Derbyshire at the 3aaa County Ground tomorrow having conceding more than 300 runs in four successive games, all of which have been lost.
Their bowlers are far from alone in suffering this season. In an era when Twenty20 strike-rates are spreading into the 50-over format, bowling-attacks up and down the country are going through the mincer.
That's not to say that Troughton is satisfied with his bowlers' work. He knows they need to improve - but is aware that the job of a white-ball bowler in this era is one far-removed from the days when bowlers in one-day cricket were treated with restraint and respect.
"We know where we have to improve. In the last two games we have had the opposition four down, and they batted very well from that point, don't get me wrong, they were great partnerships between Root and Mullaney and Croft and Clark. But we have to find a way where we can keep the pressure on."
"It's a very tough gig," Troughton said. "People put their hands up to bowl at a particular time of the game and take some stick, but the stats don't show the technical and mental skill and the courage that goes into doing that job week in and week out.
"Limited-overs cricket is a very different game these days. If, as a bowler, you are missing by any margin you are going out the park. Sometimes it's going to work and sometimes it isn't and you can be a hero or villain but as long as guys are learning and improving I will take my hat off to them.
"In terms of the effort and support the guys are giving, I am very proud of them. We know it's a difficult game when things are not going well but we have to stick together and, if we are losing, make sure we are learning.
"We know where we have to improve. In the last two games we have had the opposition four down, and they batted very well from that point, don't get me wrong, they were great partnerships between Root and Mullaney and Croft and Vilas. But we have to find a way where we can keep the pressure on.
"Last year, when the 50-over games came later in the season on turning wickets, we were able to do that. Now we need to find a way to find that little bit of X-factor mid-innings to break the back of teams so that at the death we are bowling at nine, ten and 11."
The Bears will try to locate that X-factor tomorrow against a Derbyshire Falcons side still in the hunt for qualification after one win, two defeats and a no-result.
"We'll select the 11 after seeing what conditions are like at Derby," Troughton said. "It was a tough call on Sunday to leave Josh Poysden out but Ateeq Javid did really well on his return so we have good options.
"We will look at the squad and the make-up of our attack and decide what we think is the best unit for us to take ten wickets or keep teams under par."
- Ian Bell (Captain)
- Mark Adair
- Tim Ambrose (Wicket-Keeper)
- Keith Barker
- Rikki Clarke
- Sam Hain
- Oliver Hannon-Dalby
- Ateeq Javid
- Matthew Lamb
- Jeetan Patel
- Josh Poysden
- Grant Thornton
- Aaron Thomason
- Jonathan Trott
Warwickshire's next Royal London One-Day Cup home game is against Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston on Sunday 14 May.
Adult tickets are priced at £15 at all times, whilst Under 16s go completely FREE.