County are proving the doubters wrong

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Worcestershire CC V Kent CC LV Division 2 match at New Road-Pic Jonathan Barry 16.4.14 1614575707......High fives....Jack Shantry celebrates with his Worcestershire team mates after dismissing Brendan Nash for 28runs. (5480131)

First published in Sport

WORCESTERSHIRE'S excellent start to the LV= County Championship campaign has certainly lifted the doom and gloom that surrounded New Road prior to the season.

Few, myself included, gave the County much hope of success in 2014 and, while it is still early days, the signs are extremely encouraging.

A draw at Hampshire, a match they were leading when the rain came, followed by wrapping up an impressive 125-run home victory over Kent yesterday are achievements to be proud of.

Hampshire were the 3-1 title favourites and Kent ahead of Worcestershire in the betting for the Division Two crown.

It also shows that Steve Rhodes' side are not a soft touch and are ready to mix it with the best.

Worries about where the wickets would come from following the departure of veteran seamer Alan Richardson have so far proved unfounded.

Never mind that they still have the considerable talents of spinner Saeed Ajmal to add to their firepower.

Rhodes, and bowling coach Matt Mason, said this was the time for the others to step out of Richardson's shadow and make their mark and they haven't shied away.

Against Kent, all-rounder Gareth Andrew claimed eight wickets across the two innings, four in each, while seamers Jack Shantry and Charlie Morris took five and three respectively.

The performance of 21-year-old Morris, in particular, will give encouragement given that he is relatively inexperienced in the first-class arena.

Shantry is no stranger to taking wickets, also taking four against Hampshire, but Andrew has had an injury-plagued couple of seasons and his form with the ball will be a major boost to the County.

It hasn't just been about the bowlers, either, with the batsmen taking the pressure off with solid scoring.

Captain Daryl Mitchell couldn't have asked for a better start with a fine 172 not out against Hampshire, while wicketkeeper Ben Cox made 89 in the second innings against Kent and Alexei Kervezee a half-century in the first.

Moeen Ali, back following his exploits with the England Twenty20 squad, made 69 in the Hampshire draw.

The sun is shining at New Road and the County have plenty of reasons for optimism.

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