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Ace Hughes set for County return talks
10:30am Thursday 15th November 2012 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTERSHIRE are set to hold preliminary talks with Phil Hughes about a possible return to New Road next year.
Director of cricket Steve Rhodes is in Australia on a 10-day trip and is due to meet the left-hander, a star performer for the County last season, during that period.
He is also Down Under to look at potential Worcestershire recruits as well as keep tabs on some of his current crop plying their trade in the southern hemisphere during the winter months, including wicketkeeper Ben Cox.
But sounding out Hughes, now playing for South Australia, over spearheading Worcestershire’s LV= County Championship Division Two promotion challenge is high on the agenda. The 23-year-old averaged 35 from nine Championship matches last term as well as 100.50 in the Friends Life t20 and 83 in the club’s dismal Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign.
Rhodes, who would be keen to see Hughes back for a second stint next summer, said: “He is part of the reason for going.
“Fingers crossed, we can have a good chat about the future but at the moment we haven’t got anything concrete on Phil. It will be good to have a chat with him about that.”
Meanwhile, construction work has begun on the £10 million ground development at New Road. Bulldozers have spent the past few weeks pulling down the offices, executive suite, club shop and reception to make way for a 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and restaurant along with new offices and conferencing facilities.
The plan is for the offices to be ready by early June and Worcestershire have asked the England and Wales Cricket Board for permission to start the 2013 season away from their headquarters.
The hotel is set for completion next October and it is hoped both developments will create more than 45 new jobs when they open.
County chief executive David Leatherdale said: “Like all sports clubs we have to look carefully at our resources to safeguard the future of our club.
“The new Premier Inn hotel and executive suites will continue to develop our ground into a 365-day venue, attracting additional visitors to the ground and diversifying the club’s finances.
“This can only help to improve our performance on the pitch and we aim to be up and running in time for the start of our T20 campaign in late June and to welcome Australia in the lead up to their 2013 Ashes campaign.
“We will be working with contractor Gilbert Ash who have been appointed to build both the Premier Inn hotel and restaurant and executive suites to minimise disruption during the early part of the 2013 season.”
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