Home news Worcestershire: Promotion-winning Pears' crop of home-grown players

Worcestershire: Promotion-winning Pears' crop of home-grown players

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Steve Rhodes first joined the Worcestershire staff from his native Yorkshire in 1982. He also won County Championships as a player, before his six Division Two titles, one as a player, five as a coach

Worcestershire boss Steve Rhodes has been proud of all six promotion-winning County Championship sides he has been part of since the club first stepped up to Division One cricket in 2003.

But it is this latest crop of home-grown Pears at New Road that have given him most cause for pleasure.

Rhodes has long been a big advocate for growing your own rather than taking the quick fix of buying in from abroad.

“People know my thoughts on developing England players,” he told BBC Sport.

“In an era where you are under pressure to perform and get results, this is the reason for the short-term fix.

“It’s why a lot of clubs and coaches make a policy of venturing off into international players who can play as ‘locals’ in our competition.

“It very is much a short-term fix but it does make life difficult for us because we end up playing against some very strong sides.

“We’ve had to play above our station a lot this summer to beat some of these teams. But we did it in the final game with 10 players produced by our academy,” the Worcestershire director of cricket told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

“Only Ravichandran Ashwin is an international player. He’s put in a nice, little tonic for the boys in the last month after what our other lads – John Hastings and Nathan Lyon – did earlier this summer.

“But that shouldn’t take anything away from some of the quality of cricket our home-grown local lads are producing.”

The fact that Worcestershire will now swap places not only with neighbours Warwickshire, but another county with a Test match ground – Middlesex – is a source of particular pride.

Rhodes’ bold gambles pay off

Rhodes has to take a great deal of credit for some of the big management decisions he has made over the the last 12 months.

The first came a year ago when, despite having a popular and successful man at the helm in Daryl Mitchell, he decided that replacing him with vice-captain Joe Leach, seven years Mitchell’s junior, might give the team forward impetus. And so it proved.

“Joe has done a magnificent job in his first year as captain,” said Rhodes. “And all the boys should take a lot of credit for that.”

Leach added: “I said at the start of the year that it’s about time we delivered.

“We’d had our maturing phase and we wanted results. And luckily we’ve managed to do that.”

Joe Leach captained Worcestershire to their second Division Two title triumph - and first in 14 years<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Then there was the matter of whether the boss’s own son was worth a place. But George Rhodes has proved himself over the second half of the summer, with 379 runs at 29.15, including his second half-century in the victory over Durham on the final day of the season.

Perhaps the biggest of the lot was Rhodes’ handling of the mid-season Tom Kohler-Cadmore affair when he allowed the batsman to join Yorkshire immediately after he had initially agreed a deal to move to Headingley at the end of the season.

But, such has been the collective effort, Kohler-Cadmore has not been missed.

The key players

Joe Leach: The inspirational Worcestershire captain has now taken 193 Championship wickets in the last three seasons. 59 (in Division One) in 2015, 65 in 2016 and now 69 – to make him Division Two’s leading wicket taker for the second year running.

Daryl Mitchell: Stripped of the Worcestershire captaincy a year ago. But what a response. The new chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association hit seven centuries in his haul of 1,266 runs from 14 matches, at an average of 55.04.

Ed Barnard: The Shropshire-born former England Under-19 international took a big step forward in Championship cricket with an excellent all-round contribution. 580 runs, batting primarily at number seven or eight, at 36.25. And 47 wickets at 25.26.

Josh Tongue: 47 wickets at 25.79 in his first full season, playing in all 14 matches.

Ben Cox: 675 runs at 33.75, 42 catches and a stumping. Has now played 88 first-class games for Worcestershire – and is still only 25. A key player in both four-day and limited-overs. Unlucky not to have caught the eye of the England selectors, says boss Steve Rhodes.

Joe Clarke: The potential England contender, who has already been capped at under-19 and Lions level made 920 runs at 44.74. Not quite up the standard that he had set in 2016, but enough to get him talked about in higher circles again.

Brett D’Oliveira: In his third summer opening the batting, the England Lions batsman again made a big contribution with 863 run at 37.61.

The international contingent: England’s Moeen Ali managed three half-centuries in as many appearances. India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took 20 wickets in four games, Australian John Hastings made a half-century and took 16 wickets in his six games, while fellow Aussie Nathan Lyon took six wickets in four games.


Source: BBC Here