REPLACING Alan Richardson at such short notice is an impossible task for Steve Rhodes, but the Worcestershire director of cricket is eager to give his young bowlers the chance to impress.

The New Road club were caught on the hop when the veteran seamer revealed he had been offered the job of bowling coach at Warwickshire and wanted to be freed from the final year of his contract.

Rhodes agreed to the request, but admits the timing has not helped in terms of trying to replace a man who took 254 wickets in four seasons with the club.

After claiming a career-best 73 wickets in the summer of 2011, Richardson was named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year and his bowling boots will be near-impossible for Rhodes to fill.

The County chief said: “We will always keep our eyes open for a replacement, but when you only get this news in January, everyone is sorted out for the new season.

“If it had happened in September or October, it would have been easier to plan, but it cropped up suddenly and Alan felt it was a good way to extend his career.

“It does leave us in an awkward situation and if we can’t find anyone to bring in, we will go with what we already have.

“It presents a really good opportunity to the likes of Graeme Cessford, Charlie Morris, Nick Harrison and Chris Russell who have all been working hard.

“Obviously, we would be a better side with Alan opening the bowling and we can’t fill his boots individually, but we can try to do that collectively as a bowling unit.”

Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s new development has passed the first test of its ability to cope with flooding at New Road with flying colours.

There was still approximately six inches of flood water on the ground floor of the recently-constructed facilities yesterday, but chief executive David Leatherdale insisted the disruption had been minimal.

“The lifts have been the only part of the new building out of action during the floods — for obvious reasons as they go down to the ground floor,” he explained.

“Other than that, we have been able to carry on as normal while the ground was flooded without any loss of revenue.

“We had a couple of functions booked in to the Graeme Hick Pavilion, but we were able to switch them over to The View, instead of cancelling them as we would have had to do in the past.”

Leatherdale added: “Once the water has receded from the ground this week, we will be able to start the clean-up operation by jet-washing the floors and car parks.

“Obviously, that is still a cost to us, but hopefully we won’t have too many more floods now, although the river remains high and is sensitive to fresh rainfall.”