Steve Rhodes: Worcestershire 'did what we had to do' over sacking, says chairman Taylor

Director of cricket Steve Rhodes (left) and chairman Stephen Taylor (right) were already in office when Tom Scott was appointed as CEO in 2016
Steve Rhodes (left) and Stephen Taylor were already in office when Tom Scott (centre) was appointed as chief executive in 2016

Worcestershire had no option but to sack Steve Rhodes as director of cricket after an investigation into his conduct, says chairman Stephen Taylor.

It has been reported Rhodes delayed telling the county about the arrest of 22-year-old all-rounder Alex Hepburn, who was charged with two counts of rape in December.

Hepburn signed a new contract with Worcestershire in October.

"It is a shame but that's what we had to do," Taylor told BBC Sport.

"It is a sad way but, unfortunately, the club had to do what it needed to do. In today's world of HR, we have to do all the right things in the right way.

"For what we've done all the credit goes to Steve Rhodes. The cricket side of this club has been put together superbly by Bumpy. He has made a massive contribution as a player and also as head coach, then director of cricket.

"We wish him well in the future. But, because of the circumstances, we, as a club, have now got to move on and make the best of everything."

Rhodes' departure from New Road

Alex Hepburn
Alex Hepburn, who has yet to make a first-class appearance for Worcestershire, signed a one-year contract in October

Rhodes left his role as director of cricket on 14 December, after an internal investigation into his conduct following the club's announcement on 29 November, when all they would say was that they were "dealing with a disciplinary matter".

Rhodes, who was due to coach England Young Lions at the Under-19 World Cup in January and February, was stood down from that role and is currently on holiday in Australia considering his next role in cricket.

Hepburn's case, originally scheduled for Worcester crown court on 4 January, has now been put back to Wednesday, 17 January.

Matt Rawnsley's arrival as CEO

Matt Rawnsley will leave his role as MD of an industrial and aerospace components manufacturer to return to New Road
Matt Rawnsley will leave his role as MD of an industrial and aerospace components manufacturer to return to New Road

Rhodes' exit from Worcester has come in the same winter in which one of his former team-mates Matt Rawnsley has returned to the club as chief executive, 15 years after the end of his playing career.

"We had 150 candidates, of which we interviewed 20, then narrowed it down to a shortlist of four," Taylor told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"We had four really strong candidates, but Matt really did shine out as the most positive of them all.

"Obviously his cricket experience and him also being a local county guy was a real plus. But over and above everything else was his business experience.

"Cricket is going through massive changes, as is New Road itself. It's so important that we stand on our own financially. And I see Matt being there for a long stint, which is what the club needs."

Rawnsley will officially take office on 1 March, but is currently undergoing a two-month handover period with current CEO Tom Scott, who originally announced his intention to step down in September.

Big decisions still to be made

Worcestershire had three overseas players last season, Aussies John Hastings (left) and Nathan Lyon, who stood in briefly, and New Zealander Mitchell Santner (right) for the T20 Blast
Worcestershire had three overseas players last season, Australians John Hastings (left) and Nathan Lyon, who stood in briefly, and New Zealander Mitchell Santner (right) for the T20 Blast

In an eventful winter so far, Worcestershire still have two big decisions to make - finding a successor to Rhodes and announcing who will be their County Championship and T20 overseas players next season.

Taylor says no immediate progress has been made in their search for a replacement for Rhodes, a job which has been downgraded from director of cricket to head coach.

"We're inundated with inquiries," Taylor told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "We're looking to put together a cricket sub-group to find the next head coach.

"Matt Rawnsley is already taking some involvement. But, if the right candidate is not available, we may have to wait a little bit.

"And we're continuing to talk to overseas players. (Former Worcestershire and England opener) Tim Curtis, my vice chair, is taking a big lead role in that. He has massive experience on the cricket side.

"We'd like to get a good batsman if we could, who can do well in T20, but until the ink is dry, it's not for me to say what we'll end up with."

Worcestershire chairman Stephen Taylor was talking to BBC Hereford & Worcester sports editor Trevor Owens

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