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Interviews, Warwickshire

Keith Barker confident of title charge

Keith Barker is upbeat about Warwickshire’s chances of clinching the County Championship title for the first time since 2004 after their strong start to the season.

The 25-year-old has played a key role in the side’s early success, lodging his first championship five-wicket haul against Lancashire in their five-wicket victory at Liverpool.

The left-armer believes it has been a dream start for a Bears team deprived of the injured Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin – and reckons they can build a prolific season.

“Bar the injuries, the season so far couldn’t have gone better,” Barker said. “It has been a great start. We have been in situations when we didn’t know how the result would go. It has been a bit close at times, but we dug deep and got the results we needed.

“I think we can have a very good season. We are always seen as underdogs and don’t really mind that as all the limelight is off us. We just go about our business. As long as we concentrate on our game and what we are good at then I don’t see any reason why we can’t be up there again at the end of the season.”

Barker did not expect to feature in the Bears’ opening fixtures but has opened the bowling in the absence of Woakes and Rankin. When they return, the competition for seam-bowling places will be immense.

“All I can do is just keep doing what I am doing and see what happens,” he said. “We have such a good bowling attack, I was wondering if I would get the opportunity.

“Unfortunately for Woakesy he went down and Boyd as well and that meant that I could come in. I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity.

“They are obviously big performers in our team when they play and you expect them to come straight back in so it’s all down to what Ashley Giles and Jim Troughton think.

“It’s just nice to be in a bowling unit where we can actually give bowlers a rest and others who do come in we know can do well.”

Barker’s performances with the new ball this season have made a few heads turn but he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground – and hands credit to bowling coach Graeme Welch.

“We started working on my action in November and literally broke it down, just using my arms not even actually bowling, just getting my arms to work as one instead of individually,” Barker explained.

“I feel a lot better and a lot more confident. I have to thank Graeme 100 per cent. He has helped me understand a lot about my bowling.

“It would be nice to get an England Lions call up but I am just concentrating on Warwickshire. I am not one to look ahead but it would be a nice bonus.”

No-one knows if Barker will retain his place in the Bears’ four-day squad – but he has given Giles and the rest of the coaching staff a real selection conundrum.

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About Chris Airey

Sports Journalist at Staffordshire Uni - writes for DerbyshireCCC, TelfordUtd Programme and AllOutCricket - tries to play a bit of cricket too!!

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