Warwickshire: Jim Troughton proud of how Bears got over 'extraordinary' injury crisis
Warwickshire head coach Jim Troughton says the team will be stronger for the way they got through an 'extraordinary' injury crisis at Edgbaston in 2019.
Aside from the season-long absence of injured England batsman Ian Bell, the Bears lost seven of their pace attack, three to season-ending injuries.
Spinner Jeetan Patel took 64 wickets to carry the attack, but Warwickshire had to call on 14 different seam bowlers.
"I've never seen anything like that in my 20 years here," said Troughton.
"To have seven front-line seamers out - and your best batter - it was an extraordinary season.
"On top of losing someone of Belly's quality, we even had Adam Hose breaking his thumb the day before the RL50 (One-Day Cup) and missing all of that.
"But all the guys are heading in the right direction and on target come the new year."
Warwickshire's seamers in 2019
Cast in order of appearance:
|Henry Brookes: 11 matches, 315.3 overs, 32 wkts at 42.19||Matt Lamb: 5 matches, 34.2 overs, 3 wkts at 55.33|
|Craig Miles: 5 matches, 118.4 overs, 17 wkts at 31.88||Toby Lester: 2 matches, 55 overs, 5 wkts at 46.60|
|Ryan Sidebottom: 1 match, 34 overs, 2 wkts at 59.50||Ben Mike: 2 matches, 36 overs, 1 wkt|
|Tom Milnes: 1 match, 13 overs, 0 wkts||James Wainman: 1 match, 23 overs, 3 wkts at 37.33|
|Will Rhodes: 14 matches, 149.1 overs, 15 wkts at 28.33||Olly Stone: 2 matches, 66.3 overs, 7 wkts at 38.57|
|Oliver Hannon-Dalby: 12 matches, 399 overs, 44 wkts at 25.66||George Garrett: 3 matches, 84.5 overs, 8 wkts at 37.75|
|Liam Norwell: 4 matches, 110.5 overs, 14 wkts at 25.71||Ethan Brookes: 1 match, 12 overs, 0 wkts|
Bailey Wightman was also signed on a short-term deal prior to the Kent away game, but was not used.
'Like having four brand new signings'
Warwickshire, already deprived of England all-rounder Chris Woakes, know that as soon as Stone is fit, they will almost certainly lose him to England duty again, following the highly promising start he had made to his international career.
But, in the week that Warwickshire resumed pre-season fitness training at Edgbaston, Troughton's first target is to simply have them all back firing on all cylinders for the start of the 2020 season in early April.
"Stony is showing good signs of recovery and Ryan Sidebottom too after his scans. He was bowling full pelt before he went back to Australia and we'll see him again in January," he told BBC Sport.
"Liam Norwell's come back from tearing his hamstring off the bone and he now has a new baby in his life too. He now has a different challenge to go with his hamstring issues but he looks strong
"Belly's currently away coaching England's Under-19s, which is a good thing for him too, going forward. He had two different injuries, which offset each other, first his foot, then his knee. But, after missing the entire season, I've seen videos of him back on the treadmill.
"Having those four back will be like having four new signings."
'We punched above our weight'
Although Warwickshire's injury crisis reached its peak ahead of the trip to Canterbury in mid-summer when they had to rush out and make four emergency fast-bowling signings, the Bears did at least stay afloat.
All the injuries gave the excellent Oliver Hannon-Dalby to finally make his mark as a genuine Championship fast bowler, aside from his white ball role.
The Yorkshireman weighed in with 44 victims, while Will Rhodes performed nobly, especially when he took match figures of 9-55 to help become the first side to take champions Essex to a final day at Chelmsford. And youngsters George Garrett and Ethan Brookes both came in to make promising debuts.
Most crucially, Warwickshire stayed in Division One.
"The fact that we managed to stay up was a great achievement by players and management," said Troughton.
"We punched above our weight. We made Essex follow on here, we took Somerset to day four at Taunton and did the same to Essex at Chelmsford. And even batting out the draw with Hampshire, up against Kyle Abbott, who was the best bowler in the country, was an achievement.
"But being so tested in adversity created a lot of opportunity for our young group of players to get more cricket than we'd envisaged. It's all about belief with young players. And the only way you know if they can play is if you play them."