Will Rhodes and Dominic Sibley are aiming to take up where they left off last season when they line up for MCC against Surrey in the Champion County match in Dubai later this month.
"We put together a couple of century stands and, most importantly, contribute to wins for the Bears and that’s what we will be looking to do next season."
The Warwickshire openers earned selection for the prestige season curtain-raiser, which will begin on March 24th at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground, with an excellent 2018 season.
Rhodes and Sibley were ever-present in the championship as the Bears advanced to the Division Two title, each scoring four centuries in their first season together as an opening pair.
They finished in excellent form with opening stands of 123, 158, 96 and 176, Sibley scoring centuries in each of the last three games, to see their side over the promotion line. The pair got better the longer the season went on to provide exactly the foundation that the Bears’ batting needed.
Now the objective is to deliver more of the same, says Rhodes, for whom the Champion County match has a special resonance. He made his first-class debut in the fixture four years ago – and starred with 61 runs and match-figures of 12-3-22-3 in Yorkshire’s nine-wicket win.
“It was quite a memorable debut, though it was a bit different then, played with a pink ball and in Abu Dhabi,” Rhodes said.
“It will be a tough game because Surrey are an outstanding side and pretty much cruised to the title last year, but I am really looking forward to it and it’s great that Dom will be out there too. He really showed his class towards the end of last season with centuries in the last three games. We put together a couple of century stands and, most importantly, contribute to wins for the Bears and that’s what we will be looking to do next season.”
Productive seasons for Rhodes and Sibley would be a huge stride towards establishing the Bears in Division One. In their first season back in the top tier after promotion, consolidation is the top priority for Jeetan Patel’s side – though, who knows, if all goes extremely well, this time next year Rhodes could be back in the Champion County fixture for a third time, facing the MCC.
“That’s always the aim at the start of the season isn’t it?” he said. “And from what I have seen over the last two weeks since getting back from Australia the lads are right up for it. Surrey will be very strong again and there are plenty of other good teams but we are heading into the season in good shape.”
Warwickshire will travel to Abu Dhabi on Sunday for their pre-season trip, during which they will be joined by new sport director Paul Farbrace. Rhodes has worked with Farbrace before and is looking forward to doing so again.
“I worked with Paul when I was coming through at Yorkshire, aged 17 and 18,” he said. “He pushes you hard and wants to bring the best out of every player so it’s a great appointment for Warwickshire.”