Ashley Giles believes that Warwickshire’s high fitness levels could be a decisive factor as the Bears strive to drive their title bid to a successful conclusion during the next month.
The Bears are taking a break from championship action this week before embarking on the run-in and their last four games, starting against Middlesex at Edgbaston next Tuesday.
They are in a great position in the Division One table. Giles’s men sit 11 points clear of second-placed Sussex with a game in hand on them, with third-placed Nottinghamshire a further ten points back.
Recording a seven-wicket victory over Worcestershire last week, while challengers Somerset and Nottinghamshire were suffering a rain-affected draw at Taunton, has left the Bears hot favourites to land the title for the seventh time in their history and the first since 2004.
One of the fittest squads in the country, they are habitually strong finishers to a season.
So director of cricket Giles is hoping that his players will again stay strong, fit and in-form to finish the job and go one better than last year – when they agonisingly had to settle for the runners-up spot behind Lancashire.
“One of my aims is always for us to finish the season as fit as we started,” he said.
“That’s not easy because there is a natural wear and tear process throughout the season but to keep your best players on the park is crucial and, at the moment, we are doing that.
“The last month of the season is the business end and we are still in two competitions and will try to manage our squad in those. The important thing is keeping guys on the field and focused on winning every ball, every session. That’s what we did in the second innnings against Worcestershire last week and it won us the game.
“There was a real confidence throughout the team all along that we would win the match, even when we were more than 100 behind on first innings. And the way we played in both second innings reflected that mentality.
“We didn’t bowl that well in the first innings but were much better in the second. We shut them down and built the pressure.