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Barker ready to face up to competition.

Byline: Brian Halford

KEITH Barker is backing a winter of hard work on his bowling action to leave him well equipped for the intense battle ahead for the all-rounders spots in Warwickshire's first team next season.

After initially establishing himself in the Bears' one-day side in 2010, left-armer Barker enjoyed his first sustained crack at championship cricket last season. The former Lancashire man played nine four-day games, which brought him 18 wickets and, with the bat, his first two first-class centuries.

That haul amounted to promising progress in the 25-year-old's career but with the likes of Chris Woakes, Neil Carter, Darren Maddy, Stef Piolet and Rikki Clarke around for seam-bowling all-rounder competition, he knows he must keep his standards high.

"There are probably more all-rounders here than at any other county so that makes it great for the club," he said. "There is no scope for slacking.

"If you don't bowl well in a game then you know there are other guys ready and waiting to take your place. That's how it should be. If someone isn't doing their best, then someone else comes in.

"You don't worry about it when you go out on the field. You just go out there and make sure you do the best you can for the team.

"I have been working hard on my bowling action, trying to make it a lot more economical and not as stressful on my body. I'm trying to hit the deck a bit more and keep my line a lot tighter.

"I do pitch the ball up and give it a chance to swing and sometimes that is a bit of a risk but it's the way I have always bowled. It is risky and sometimes you get wickets, sometimes you don't, but the accent is still going to be on me hitting those good areas, just with hitting the deck a bit harder. We will see how it goes when we get outside in Barbados.

"I am very happy with the way it went last year. Now this season I want to kick on and play as many games as I can in all forms of the game and do well with bat and ball.

"I surprised a few people, probably myself included, with the runs I scored last season but it was great experience and just great to get a chance. Hopefully there are many more runs to come."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 8, 2012
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