Cannabis lamps aid Edgbaston pitch
Warwickshire may, in an indirect way, have cannabis to thank if they go on to win a trophy in the 2014 season.
The club is currently utilising hot lamps confiscated by West Midlands Police from cannabis growers in the area to promote grass growth on their Edgbaston playing surface. The police gave the lamps to the club free of charge, but did warn them that they could become a target for other cannabis growers in the region.
Warwickshire, who have made a conscious effort to improve their relationships with the police, the council and other community groups over recent months, hope the lamps will help them produce wickets with the pace and bounce to assist their impressive seam attack.
Edgbaston's head groundsman, Gary Barwell, first saw hot lamps in action when he worked on the groundstaff at Notts County Football Club and believes their usage in cricket will improve pitch quality and outfield drainage.
While the desperately wet winter might usually be expected to have delayed grass growth and resulted in sluggish surfaces, the club hope the lamps have given them the chance to exploit a seam attack that includes five bowlers - Boyd Rankin, Chris Wright, Chris Woakes, Rikki Clarke and Keith Barker - who have appeared in England or England Lions squads in the last 12 months.
The lights will also help promote grass growth on areas of the outfield habitually overshadowed by the enormous new pavilion and subject to more use than other areas. In recent seasons, Warwickshire have struggled to deal with excessive rainfall in the area and have seen several games abandoned. The extra grass growth will help deal with the excessive use, soak up water and aid quick drainage.
Warwickshire has experienced more than its share of drug-related controversy in the past but on this occasion there will be relief that any connection with the issue is in a purely positive context. You might even call it a legal high.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo