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Alarm for Bears in all areas

It is no disgrace to be beaten in sport. As Tim Henman proved in his Wimbledon defeat, sometimes you come across an opponent that is simply out of your class.

It is more disappointing when a team fails to do itself justice. That was case with Warwickshire's performance on Wednesday when they appeared to wilt under pressure and allowed a Glamorgan side that should have been dead and buried to run away with the game.

This Warwickshire team has three main problems: the batting, the bowling and the fielding. In short, it is underperforming in all aspects of the game, though the underlying cause is perhaps the same: a lack of confidence.

Warwickshire have now not won a limited-overs game at home since April and the wretched Northants side remains the only county they have beaten this season in the shorter versions of the game.

It is hardly breaking news that the side lacks bowling strength. The same squad has been named for tonight's game against Gloucestershire, but Tim Groenewald must surely come into the side to add bowling depth. The ploy of utilising the part-time spin of Ian Westwood and Jim Troughton will work sometimes, but the fallacy of it was laid bare against Glamorgan.

The realisation that Warwickshire's fielding has deteriorated is harder to credit. Until the start of this season it is hard to remember a one-day side out-performing Warwickshire in the field. Now it is the norm. Trevor Penney's retirement is one reason, but when such reliable catchers as Michael Powell and Dougie Brown drop chances as simple as the ones they put down on Wednesday then alarm bells start to ring.

Fielding is so often the window to the soul of a side. Confident, happy sides invariably perform better as a fielding unit. Warwickshire are fielding like a side whose morale and confidence is low. It is no coincidence.

The problems of the batsmen are also puzzling. While the truism that batting is the side's strength is trotted out often enough, it would be reassuring to see some evidence.

There is talent in the batting order, certainly. But if talent were all it took to create a successful cricketer Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash would have 10,000 Test runs.

The truth is that confidence is vital in all aspects of this game, and Warwickshire, whether with bat, ball or in the field, look devoid of any.

Not for the first time this season a few boos rang out around Edgbaston as Warwickshire left the field on Wednesday night. Disappointment is understandable, but those supporters who jeered should reflect on what they hope to achieve by heckling their own side. The team need support now more than ever.

The new management regime of captain, coach and chief executive are bearing the brunt of the unrest. The 'fans forum' featuring the three of them (7.30pm, Dollery Bar, July 27) promises to be a lively evening.

They have been dealt a tough hand. Injuries and international call-ups have robbed the side of its four first-choice spinners (Giles, Vettori, Loudon and James) and the return of Loudon will now be delayed by his involvement in an unnecessary 'A' game against the tourists.

Unnecessary? Well we did used to have a level just below international standard where players could prove their worth to selectors. It was called county cricket. But that was before Duncan Fletcher diluted and diminished the domestic game.

At least Nick Knight should return tonight, subject to a fitness test. Nick Warren and Naqaash Tahir are expected to be fit for the Seconds game on Monday, while Lee Daggett has had an injection in his sore side and is not ready to return. Luke Parker and Moeen Ali, despite centuries for the seconds, again miss out.

All counties suffer injuries, however, and the management team can't hide behind them.

This is Warwickshire; a club which recently announced record profits and boasts a player salary the envy of nearly every other county. Expectations are high, and rightly so. In the end, there can be no excuses.

What the club needs now is dynamic and positive leadership from the captain or coach.

Losing, like winning, can become a habit. And Warwickshire are practically addicts. It will not be easy to turn things around.

Tonight Gloucestershire are the opponents at Edgbaston.

In Ian Harvey, Craig Spearman and Jon Lewis they have three potential match-winners, though the 250-runs they conceded against Somerset suggests that there are far from unbeatable.

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source - icbirmingham.co.uk

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