Worcestershire: T20 teamwork the key to success at New Road

Pakistan Test star Saeed Ajmal has saved his best form for T20 matches since his return to Worcester a month ago
Pakistan Test star Saeed Ajmal has saved his best form for T20 matches since his return to Worcester a month ago

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes says that his side's success so far in this summer's T20 Blast is down to teamwork.

Going into this Friday night's sell-out Midlands derby clash at New Road, Worcestershire lie second only to the Birmingham Bears in the North Group.

Victory for Worcestershire, on 14 points from 10 games, would take them ahead of their local rivals.

"It will be a fantastic crowd. I hope the lads play their best," said Rhodes.

"But it's always a great occasion whenever we play Warwickshire and, on the day, anybody can beat anybody.

"All I ask is that we keep playing as we have been to win seven out of our first 10 games.

"Our two wins last weekend, against Nottinghamshire and Durham. were just a really good all-round effort."

The Pears and Bears in the Twenty20
The Bears have won 11 of the last 15 Twenty20 meetings between the two old rivals.
The overall record at T20 cricket: Played 23, Bears wins 13, Worcestershire wins 8, Abandoned 2.

Worcestershire, now that Moeen Ali has returned to England duty, do not possess a Brendon McCullum.

But they do have potential match-winners to cause concern for the reigning champions, who have won eight of their 10 games so far this time round but were well beaten by eight wickets with 33 balls to spare on their last Friday night visit to New Road a year ago.

Skipper Daryl Mitchell, although seemingly unsuited to T20 cricket when his career began, has transformed himself into a fine short-form player, whether as the batting cornerstone or as a generally economical medium-pace bowler.

Last summer's most exciting discovery Richard Oliver, Mitchell's younger opening partner, has come good again, while Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Ross Whiteley, Ben Cox and Brett D'Oliveira have all produced explosive match-winning contributions late on in the innings.

Added to which, the use of leg-spinner D'Oliveira, allied to the off-spin of Saeed Ajmal and Moeen, has managed to put the brakes on a lot of big-hitting opposing batsmen.

Daryl Mitchell
Daryl Mitchell was Worcestershire's matchwinner in last year's T20 meeting with the Birmingham Bears

"On Sunday, against Durham, we were possibly 20 per cent down to what we were at Trent Bridge on Friday night," said Rhodes. "But you need to win games when you're not doing as well as you can. That's a good sign.

"Richie Oliver timed it to perfection, to see it through as an opening bat. To see him and Brett taking their time and playing it cool and then Coxy get us home at the end was great.

"But Friday's win was particularly pleasing. Tom Kohler-Cadmore batted brilliantly and Richie Oliver got a very good 31. And the way we fielded was stunning.

"Ben Cox has become the focal point for our fielding behind the stumps. Our ground fielding and catching was amazing and the bowlers kept their nerve.

"We messed up on the last day in the Championship game against Notts, so we can take a lot of confidence from giving a reasonable thumping to a Test match ground team in front of a huge crowd in their own back yard."

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