Worcestershire: Steve Rhodes looks for more from youngsters

Matt Pardoe
Matt Pardoe

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes is hoping for more quality performances from his youngsters over the final stretch of the season.

Matt Pardoe, Chris Russell and Aneesh Kapil all performed well in last week's two-day tour game against South Africa.

Teenage all-rounder Kapil now heads off on England Under-19 duty.

"I'm pleased with some of the younger guys. They've done well," said Rhodes. "They've also gained valuable experience against top players."

There could be a new face if leg-spinning all-rounder Brett D'Oliveira is called up for his Championship debut against Sussex at Hove this week.

Left-hander Pardoe, who had also hit an important 55 in the confidence-boosting Championship win against Lancashire last week, and teenager Kapil both hit half centuries against the South Africans.

"For Matt Pardoe to open the innings against a very good international attack and get 53 was commendable," added Rhodes.

"Then Aneesh Kapil played really well for his 67. He hit the ball really sweetly and looked to have time, and I thought with the ball he came back well.

"And I thought the way Chris Russell backed up his first innings 3-40 with 3-32 in the second innings was tremendous. He had a terrific match."

The performance of Isle of Wight-born Russell, 23, could prove timely, with Worcestershire possibly now resigned to losing fellow paceman Richard Jones to Derbyshire at the end of the season.

The Division Two leaders have requested 28-days' notice to approach Stourbridge-born Jones, 25, who completed his cricketing education in the East Midlands at Loughborough University.

For now, however, Worcestershire's immediate task is securing their place in Division One for another season, starting with the game against a Sussex side still nurturing outside title hopes.

With still seven fixtures left, Worcestershire have two matches in hand on most of the top flight teams - the two most important of which will be the back-to-back meetings with main rivals Lancashire and Durham.

But they start off with a tough one against Sussex.

Worcestershire won by 34 runs in last season's corresponding game at Horhsam in mid-August, thanks to a six-wicket haul from Saeed Ajmal.

But they have not won at Hove in the Championship since the first year of two-division cricket in 2000 - thanks a nine-wicket match haul from Glenn McGrath.