Varun Chopra has decided to stand down as Warwickshire captain with Ian Bell appointed as the new skipper with immediate effect.
Chopra (28) captained Birmingham Bears on the field to NatWest T20 Blast glory at their home ground of Edgbaston in 2014 after taking over from the retiring Jim Troughton. He subsequently led the Bears to Finals Day again in 2015.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as captain of the Bears and regard our NatWest T20 Blast success in 2014 as one of the best moments of my career,” Chopra said. “Whilst it has been a difficult decision to make, I feel that focusing on my batting is in the best interests of the team and I’m looking forward to fully supporting Ian, scoring as many runs as possible and hopefully contributing to more success in 2016 and beyond. I would like to thank the players, coaches and Members for their support throughout my tenure.”
Bell (33) became one of only three England cricketers to win five Ashes Series, following last summer’s victory over Australia, and he has won 118 Test Match caps to date in addition to 161 ODI and eight IT20 caps. He previously captained Warwickshire, and scored a match-winning century, in the CB40 triumph at Lord’s in 2010 and has won two County Championships, two List A tournaments and a NatWest T20 Blast title in a 15-year domestic career to date. He joined the Club’s Development of Excellence programme at the under 11s age-group and progressed to make his senior debut in 1999.
“The Club and Edgbaston have been a huge part of my life since an early age and, in the past, I have made no secret of my desire to captain the Bears,” Bell said. “I am very proud to now be given the opportunity to lead this exciting squad and to challenge for titles in all forms of the game. We have a strong programme of pre-season fixtures ahead and we will all be working very hard to ensure that we’re in the best possible shape for the first game of the County Championship away to Hampshire on 10 April.”
Dougie Brown, Director of Cricket at Warwickshire CCC, said: “Varun has been one of the most prolific batsmen in the county game since he joined the Club and he has made a huge contribution as an opener and captain, scoring 14 First Class centuries and helping us transform in to one of the top T20 sides in the country. As a team we fully understand and respect his decision to focus on his batting at the top of the order to help the team get off to the best possible start.
“In Ian Bell we have one of the most celebrated cricketers in the Club’s history, who has worn the Bear and Ragged Staff since the age of 10 and has played at the very highest level of the game since 2004. He is an excellent role model for the younger members of the squad and will build on the great work that Varun has done in leading Warwickshire and Birmingham Bears with huge pride and proficiency.”
Warwickshire travel to Dubai for a two-week pre-season tour on 1 March before returning to Edgbaston for two-day friendlies against Gloucestershire (28-29 March) and Worcestershire (5-6 April). In between the friendlies the Bears face Leeds/Bradford MCCU in the three-day First Class University match, starting on 31 March.