<
>

Warwickshire axe coaching support after shock of relegation

Ashley Giles return to Warwickshire has brought no immediate rewards Getty Images

Fallout from Warwickshire's poor season in the County Championship has begun with news that at least two members of the backroom staff are to be axed.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Alan Richardson, the club's bowling coach, and Chris Armstrong, the club's fitness and conditioning coach, are set to leave the club following a review of the player pathway and high performance squad undertaken by director of cricket, Ashley Giles.

Warwickshire won just one Championship match in 2017 and were relegated to the second division. During that period, only one bowler - the overseas spinner, Jeetan Patel - claimed more than 26 Championship wickets and there were some fitness issues with the seamers, though arguably no more than at other clubs.

Both departures are a surprise. Richardson, a former Warwickshire player, re-joined the club ahead of the 2014 season - he brought forward his retirement as a Worcestershire player to take up the role - and is a widely popular figure, while Armstrong has worked at the club since 2004 - all his working life - and was recently best man at Chris Woakes' wedding. News of the departures, which is understood to have stunned the individuals involved, has not gone down well with several of the players.

The episode sustains a more ruthless attitude that has been apparent at Warwickshire in recent times. Dougie Brown, who had served the club for more than two decades as a player and coach, was sacked as director of cricket 12 months ago just a few weeks after leading the side to the Royal London One Day Cup. Whether that marks an admirable determination not to accept mediocrity or a slide towards short-term thinking and a football mentality is debatable. It is noticeable, however, that across the county game - at Taunton, or Leicester or in Hove and Birmingham - there appears to be less patience afforded to coaches.

Certainly this move underlines Giles' determination to shake things up at Edgbaston. While he may have a reputation as a jovial character in the wider game, that exterior masks a steel that enabled him, as a player of modest natural ability, to represent England more than 100 times and play a key part in the 2005 Ashes success. This episode will also go some way to dispelling the suggestion that the Warwickshire coaching staff - containing, as it does, a host of former players of a similar vintage - is in any way overly cosy.

There could well be knock-on effects at other clubs, too. With their ambition and spending power, Warwickshire will be looking for replacements to start as soon as possible. Graeme Welch, who enjoyed good success as bowling coach at Warwickshire before taking on the role of head coach at Derbyshire, is one obvious possibility as Richardson's replacement. Welch is currently bowling coach at Leicestershire.

Warwickshire declined to comment.