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Rhodes tells Worcestershire players to fight for their starting spots
STEVE Rhodes admits there are still several places up for grabs in his Worcestershire first XI ahead of the 2013 season-opener at Lancashire in just under a month’s time.
The County head to Old Trafford to get their LV= County Championship Division Two campaign under way on Wednesday, April 10 and director of cricket Rhodes has been happy with his side’s build-up to the new term.
Rhodes said: “We have a rough idea of about 75 per cent of the team — but the remaining 25 per cent will have several players fighting for them. The pre-season games are important and we’ll see how people get on.
“The wicketkeeper position is shaping up really well and I’m pleased with Ben Cox in particular. Michael Johnson has come over from Australia and straight away settled in well with the group of players and the practice that we do.
“Ben is thriving on the challenge of having Johnno around and the battle for the gloves is fascinating. I’m pleased Ben has taken up the mantle and he is fighting hard.
“It’s not fair to give any sort of indication of who will be first-choice when we’re still a month away from the season.
“There’s still lots of water to pass under the bridge, both in terms of practice and pre-season matches, but what is pleasing is that although they are mates, they are also competing against each other. That is tremendous as it is bringing out the best in both of them.”
With the practice facilites at New Road out of action following the winter flooding, Rhodes and his players have upped sticks and are preparing for the forthcoming season at Kidderminster Victoria’s Chester Road ground.
However, the County have borrowed an idea from Essex that has enabled them to continue their practice away from the elements, but still using real outdoor wickets.
A giant marquee has been erected over the Birmingham League Premier Division outfit’s third team square, which allows the Worcestershire players to bat and bowl on grass pitches regardless of the weather.
Rhodes is eagerly anticipating the new campaign and insists any doom and gloom that followed last year’s four-day relegation has long been dispelled.
He added: “I’m not looking back, you have to turn the page and start with a fresh piece of paper. It hurt getting relegated last season, but that’s history now — it’s all fresh, the daffodils are out, we’ll soon be smelling the cut grass and the season will be upon us.
“To get back to Division One of the LV= County Championship won’t be easy, but we’ll be doing our best to get promoted.”