And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
(Robert Zimmerman, otherwise known as Bob Dylan)
When Warwickshire decided to part company with Director of Cricket Dougie Brown at the end of last season, it was a clear signal that the winds of change were blowing through Edgbaston Stadium. The appointments of Ashley Giles as Director of Sports and Jim Troughton as First Team Coach confirmed this.
Now we are starting to see the first results of these management changes filtering through to player level in the form of arrivals and departures.
Young all rounder Will Rhodes, ex-captain of England under 19s, is coming in next season from Yorkshire; and yesterday, it was announced that Somerset batsman Adam Hose is joining the Bears with immediate effect.
If the reaction from Somerset is any indication, Hose is a good signing. The West Country club were willing to offer Hose a three year contract so clearly wanted to hold on to him. Director of Cricket Matt Maynard could scarcely contain his disappointment.
“He may look back in three years’ time and think ‘what was I doing’ “ said Maynard. “It’s disappointing when you give a player an opportunity and this happens, but that’s sport.”
It is also rumoured that Warwickshire have an interest in Dominic Sibley, the 21-year-old Surrey batsman. Again, there is no doubt that his current county want to keep Sibley, the youngest ever double centurion in the County Championship; and there will no doubt be a queue of other suitors.
What about departures?
Loyal Bear Ian Westwood retired mid-season rather than face another year of sitting out the NatWest T20 Blast. Following on from the previous departures of Varun Chopra and Laurie Evans, this left gaps in an already unreliable and inconsistent Bears batting order.
The big news, however, is the decision of all-rounder Rikki Clarke to return to Surrey where he started his career. He was looking for Warwickshire to offer him a long-term deal which they were unwilling to do. The two-year contract at Surrey will take him though to age 38.
Whilst Clarke’s departure clearly fits in with a transition agenda, there are also some regrets at the loss of someone who has made 322 appearances for the Bears across formats in the ten seasons since he joined. For the last two or three years, Clarke and Jeetan Patel have been the heart and soul of the team, delivering consistent performances in all competitions.
“Rikki has been a great servant for the club and has enjoyed the most successful years of his career at Edgbaston, winning four domestic trophies across all formats,” said Giles.
Fans, too, have been generous in their appreciation for Clarke’s contributions. They have shown complete understanding regarding the reasons for his move. Some doubt how many opportunities he will get at Surrey. But they accept his desire to prolong his time in the game.
To add to the atmosphere of change, there have at last been signs that one or two of the home-grown younger players may become first choices rather than afterthoughts.
All-rounder Aaron Thomason has established himself in the T20 team, Andy Umeed recently made a marathon first-class century and left arm spinner Sunny Singh has leapt ahead of leg-spinner Josh Poysden as support spinner to Patel. Stylish batsman Sam Hain may have struggled in red-ball cricket but has flourished in the shorter forms.
With others such as Grant Thornton, Mark Adair, Ateeq Javid, Alex Mellor, George Panayi and Ed Pollock all in the mix for selection, the days of the Bears regularly fielding eight over-thirties seem almost over.
The likelihood is that Clarke will not be the last of the older brigade to move on. The question is not whether but who and when.
Bob Dylan again:
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.