IAN Bell is thoroughly relishing his first season as Warwickshire captain but does admit that it has brought home to him just what a demanding role it is.
The 34-year-old, who took over as club skipper in January, is leading the Bears into the season’s run-in with the team still in contention in all three formats.
It has been a strange first half of the campaign in some ways with rain biting deep into the programme to sentence many County Championship to draws and wash out numerous limited-overs matches.
That has made it difficult for all the counties to properly get into rhythm with Warwickshire having lost 849 overs to the weather in championship cricket alone.
But there has still been plenty for Bell to get his teeth into as he embraces his role as Bears captain.
“I now really understand how tough it is,” said Bell. “The toughest thing of all, when you have a big, competitive squad like ours is that you can’t keep everyone happy.
“Myself and Dougie Brown have made some really tough choices this year – choices that will affect us going forward. But what we try to do is make the right choices for Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
“Both of us are huge Bears who love the club to pieces and we know that we can’t keep everyone happy. That’s been tough but you just have to be as honest as you can be.”
Captaincy of a big county cricket club is a serious and onerous responsibility, but for Bell it is a privilege – the achievement of a long-held ambition at Edgbaston.
And while he is still desperately keen to get his teeth into some more test cricket for England yet, the role of Bears captain is one he is fully embracing.
“It is a pretty full-on job but I am really enjoying it,” said Bell. “I love playing for Warwickshire so that makes it a lot easier.
“It is the people at Warwickshire who helped me achieve my dream of playing 100 Test matches for England. I wouldn’t have done that and been in five winning Ashes series without the support of the Bears and the coaches here.
“My job now is to pass on what I have learned and hopefully I can do that both in terms of trophies and by building something at the club and sharing every little bit of experience and information with the younger guys who can take the club on again so that when I move on the team is in a better place.
“I’m very lucky to have the support of guys like Jonathan Trott and Jeetan Patel who have played international cricket and who think the same way as I do.
“They want to help and pass on information and if you have senior players thinking that way and wanting to help the younger guys, rather than feeling threatened by them, then you have a great balance. And that’s what we have here.
“Coaches are important, of course, but as a young player I think you look to your senior players most, and if they have great habits and enthusiasm about the game, they will create the same in the younger players.”