Warwickshire followers far and wide will be monitoring the team’s progress as the compelling County Championship equation finally unfolds this week – and no-one more avidly than the Bears in the England camp.
Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott will be away training with England in preparation for Friday’s one-day game against India at Cardiff.
But they will be following the fortunes of Jim Troughton’s side every step of the way.
Bell, who has been in the Edgbaston system since the age of ten, is thrilled that Warwickshire could finish top of the pile and believes it would be just reward for a squad from which he has been kept remote since May due to England calls.
“It is tremendous stuff from the lads and a fantastic squad effort,” he said.
“So many players have contributed – everyone from the established players to the three overseas guys, who have all had big hands in winning games, and the younger lads like Keith Barker and Chris Metters, who have come in and played a big part.
“It would be great if they can beat Hampshire and finish the job.
“They deserve to. Since we last won the title in 2004 the club has been through quite a deep period of transition as the likes of Nick Knight moved on.
“There were quite a few changes but now things have settled down again and it really augurs well for the future.
“It is quite a young squad and they will grow together and hopefully achieve a lot and win a lot of trophies in the next few years.
“England have got some training days this week but I will be desperate to know how the guys are doing. There is always a lot of banter flying around the England dressing room because of the pride we take in our counties.
“I always love to get back and play for the Bears so to be part of a championship-winning squad would be brilliant.
“Hampshire won’t be an easy game and you never know what is going to happen with the weather but the guys have a lot of momentum after beating Notts by an innings.
“Jim has done a fantastic job as captain.
“It is not an easy job when you think about everything that’s involved and then you have to look after your own personal game as well, but the players have really gone into battle for him.”