Rob Johnston catches up with Jim Troughton, now reunited with Ashley Giles at Warwickshire
In 2012, Ashley Giles as coach and Jim Troughton as captain led Warwickshire to the County Championship title. It would be the crowning glory of three years of work by the pair and a few months later, Giles was appointed as England’s one-day coach.
Now, five years on, and after a middling 2016 season for the club, Giles and Troughton have been reunited at Edgbaston, with the aim of emulating their previous success.
Giles was named director of sport in December but it is the elevation of Troughton, 38, to the role of first team coach which is the most interesting, the promotion coming just over two years since his enforced retirement from playing due to injury.
His coaching experience amounts to three seasons in various roles with Warwickshire but with Giles in place to offer guidance and support, that inexperience, perhaps, matters less than if he was out on his own.
Troughton, who played 409 times for the county in a 13-year career, thinks he is ready. “I’m very honoured to be given the chance at a club that means a lot to me,” he said. “It was really disappointing to retire prematurely. It was ending earlier than I wanted but it meant I had to find a positive and I got on the coaching ladder earlier.
“I was pretty much injured for the whole of 2013 and 2014 so I was more involved in a management sense than as a player, anyway.
“There’s a lot of man-management stuff I learned from captaincy which I think is important, too. I do think I’ve got the experience now. I can pick up the phone and talk to Ash, someone who has got the experience at the highest level, and that will be a great benefit, not only to myself but to the team.
“We think similarly on a lot of things in terms of where we think this club is right now and where we think we can take it.”
How will the arrangement with Giles work? “When we pick squads, Ash will have an input as will Ian Bell and my other fellow coaches and we’ll select a squad. Ultimately, the XI will be selected by the captain. I’ll be taking care of all cricket related matters, looking after the first team and the coaches around me and the second team.
“Ash is there as someone who can give advice. If I see a player on the market or if I see opportunities for us to strengthen then he will be the person I talk to. He’ll take care of those types of things, contracts and the like. It does allow me to focus fully on preparing the guys for each day’s cricket.”
Despite winning the One-Day Cup last season, Dougie Brown was sacked as cricket director at the end of the campaign. Warwickshire’s poor performances in the Championship, winning just three games all season and avoiding relegation only in the final game, together with murmurings of discontent within the dressing room contributed to Brown’s removal, as did an average T20 Blast campaign.
“In the last game of the season against Lancashire, when we needed to win to stay up, we showed what we are capable of doing when we are completely focused and clinical,” said Troughton.
“I think we probably lost that – being as clinical as we could – throughout the season. We missed opportunities to push games over and in tough games where we were up against it, we didn’t hold on.
“It’s recognising those passages of play in four-day cricket and we didn’t come out on top in a lot of them. The guys recognise that, it’s not where we wanted to be last year, but the fact is we stayed up and this division is going to be as competitive as it ever has been with only eight teams. It’ll be a tough league to dominate and win but we think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone else.”
Despite the squad boasting Bell, Jonathan Trott, Jeetan Patel, Rikki Clarke and Keith Barker, it is one that looks shorn of youth and depth, particularly in the batting department where only two players averaged over 40 in the Championship last season.
Several players have left or been released with Varun Chopra returning to Essex and Laurie Evans heading for Sussex but so far, only pace bowler Olly Stone, 22, has arrived in return. Not that Warwickshire will panic.
“We don’t want to be looking for quick fixes here and blocking players coming through,” says Troughton.
“There will be opportunities for young guys to show what they’re capable of. I’d much rather they be able to do that now with the likes of a Bell or a Clarke or a Trott in the team rather than sticking our heads in the sand and finding out two or three years down the line, if we lose a few senior players, that we’ve got four or five youngsters all having to fend for themselves.”
Would they sign a Kolpak player?
“It’s a juggling act but first and foremost we want to bring through our own players. My view on Kolpak is you never say never. It would have to be someone coming over for the right reasons with the right character, right age bracket.
“But that isn’t on the table at the moment and I feel comfortable with what we’ve got.”
Few counties would describe a season in which they won a trophy as disappointing but such are the expectations at Warwickshire, it is how some saw last year.
The new management team certainly expect improvement. “Setting big goals for trophies is not something we are concentrating on,” said Troughton.
“But we do want improvement in four-day and T20 cricket. We think we’ve got the squad that can compete in all forms which we have done for the last few years. I still think we can do that.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, January 13 2017
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