Preview: Warwickshire v Essex, Specsavers County Championship 2017

The mood in the two camps could not be more contrasting as Warwickshire and Essex prepare to meet in the Specsavers County Championship at Edgbaston tomorrow.

The Bears face their penultimate home game virtually consigned to relegation after last week's defeat to defeat to Somerset.

Essex, meanwhile, in a fantastic first campaign back in Division One after promotion, sit 36 points clear at the top and know that victory over the Bears could make them county champions for the seventh time.

"It was a disappointing game against Somerset but it didn't just happen last week, it has happened all season. The momentum is against us and we are finding that very difficult to break."

Alan Richardson

Essex's rise over the last two years shows how quickly and spectacularly fortunes can turn which might be at least of some small consolation to Warwickshire fans for whom comfort has been in short supply this championship season.

Everyone at Edgbaston is hurting. But professional cricket is an unforgiving environment, with the fortunes of every club cyclical, and Bears bowling coach Alan Richardson insists that handling the tough times is part of the job of being a pro cricketer.

"If sport was all about winning it would be a very happy place indeed and an easy life," he said. "Just like life, it's not all like that.

"The guys have got to lift themselves and go again. They are professional sportsmen and part of that is how you handle times like this. They've got to dust themselves off, as we all have to, and turn up strong against Essex and play some solid cricket against a side which has had a great season.

"It was a disappointing game against Somerset but it didn't just happen last week, it has happened all season. The momentum is against us and we are finding that very difficult to break.

"If you talk about momentum then Essex have a lot of the right sort, so it will be a real challenge for our boys - and a challenge we all have to be up for."

Positives have been hard to find for the Bears this season but, as they look ahead to trying to bounce straight back next year, the emergence of certain players has been encouraging.

After bagging his second five-wicket haul in five first-class games last week, left-arm spinner Sunny Singh has 17 wickets at 26.58 apiece. The 21-year-old Edgbaston academy product has bowled with a control, composure and skill to suggest that many more lie ahead.

Ryan Sidebottom, recruited from Berkswell in the Birmingham League, has made an equally good impression. He has 14 first-class wickets at 23.64 apiece - figures all the more impressive for having been forged in a struggling team.

"Full credit to those guys," Richardson said. "Sunny has bowled really well for two five-wicket hauls in his first five games and Ryan, who is slightly older at 28 but still a very inexperienced first-class cricketer, has come in and put in good performances.

"That's massive credit to them but it's up to the senior guys to show them what it's all about and lead by example. We can't be relying on guys who have got only a handful of games behind them."

Warwickshire Squad

  • Jonathan Trott (Captain)
  • Keith Barker
  • Ian Bell
  • Henry Brookes
  • Sam Hain
  • Matthew Lamb
  • Alex Mellor (Wicket-Keeper)
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Dom Sibley
  • Ryan Sidebottom
  • Sunny Singh
  • Chris Woakes
  • Chris Wright

Tim Ambrose is unavailable due to a stiff neck, with Olly Stone continuing his recovery from a bruised heel suffered at NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day.

Adam Hose is current unavailable for selection in the Specsavers County Championship as per the terms of his loan agreement.