By Matthew Sherry
Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown believes recently crowned LV= County Champions Durham have displayed the perfect blueprint for his club's success.
Continuing the momentum built from avoiding the drop at the end of the 2012 season, the north-east county topped the pile for a third Division One title in six years.
While the time between the end of one campaign and start of the next is significant, there is little doubt the positivity built towards the completion of 2012 had a significant impact on Durham.
Brown is now hoping the same occurs for Warwickshire, who allayed slight relegation fears to finish fourth on the back of a fine end to the recent term.
“We came back really strongly towards the end of the season,” Brown told ecb.co.uk. “And that was a pretty good effort given everything that was thrown at us.
“The back end of the season reinforced a number of things for us, things we know we are good and do well.
“Hopefully we can keep our momentum. Durham did really well in building momentum and possibly did take a lot of positives from the 2012 season, where they knew they had to fight for their lives.
“Let’s hope we can try and emulate that kind of thing. We need to just concentrate on what we’re doing and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
“We obviously want to be competitive and reach the end of the season in the mix for titles but there is a lot of hard work that goes on between now and then.”
Even though the Bears’ finish created some positive vibes, they would still have hoped to put together a better defence of their crown.
There were, of course, mitigating factors, as Brown explained: “It was not an ideal summer in that we had a lot of injuries to deal with, probably more than most.
“And there were quite a lot of games where we were getting into the final throngs and weather would come and make things really hard.
“But I think the injuries was one area that made it really difficult. There was never a game that went by where we could select from anything that remotely resembled a full-strength side."
While Brown was able to be philosophical over Warwickshire’s championship finish, he was disappointed by their efforts in one-day cricket. They finished fourth in the Midlands/Wales/West Division of the Friends Life t20 and bottom of Group A in the Yorkshire Bank 40.
“It is an area that needs work,” he admitted. “There are elements we need to address and, if we can, we have got to be quite optimistic for next summer.
“But there is a lot of work that needs to be put in between now and then. Although our one-day cricket was disappointing, we learnt a hell of a lot.”
An early exit from the YB40 did allow Warwickshire a priceless opportunity to blood in some young players.
“By the end of the summer I was about giving younger guys opportunities so, while we didn’t win many games, plenty of players got opportunities which will stand us in good stead,” Brown said.
“We were always mindful of the fact we were already depleted. So we opted to give the younger guys an opportunity in the YB40 once we were out.
“Going forward into the summer ahead, they will have experience to fall back on and hopefully they can us that.”