NEW contracts for four Worcestershire players are just reward for what looks set to be a promotion-winning campaign.
Tom Fell, Ben Cox, Joe Leach and Chris Russell have all penned two-year deals to continue their progression.
It is a sign of how far they have come as players in the past few months and what esteem the New Road hierarchy and director of cricket Steve Rhodes hold them in.
The County have struck a balance between securing key personnel but not committing to lengthy, expensive contracts and risk players dropping out of form.
Barring a major slip-up in their final three matches, Worcestershire will secure promotion back to LV= County Championship Division One, most likely as champions. They have a 25-point cushion from Hampshire in the second automatic spot and are a further eight ahead of Surrey in third.
Fell, Cox and Leach have all played their part in taking Worcestershire to the brink, which saw them go unbeaten in their first 12 four-day encounters.
Fell, who at 20 is still learning his trade, has scored two first-class centuries this season in making the step-up from academy prospect to first-team regular.
Wicketkeeper Cox is just two years older but seems to have been around for ages at New Road given his elevation to the fold while still an A-level student.
He has had to hone his craft behind the stumps under the watchful eye of former England gloveman Rhodes and has truly come of age this term.
Cox’s batting has also come to the fore in 2014 with a maiden first-class century marking him out as an integral component lower down the order.
Leach has forced his way into the reckoning from second XI cricket to take 24 championship wickets, including a career-best 5-36 against Kent. The 23-year-old has also chipped in with 213 runs.
Russell, 25, was the County’s leading wicket-taker in T20, in which they reached the quarter-finals for the second time in three years.
All will be eager to repay the faith shown in them and lead the County to greater things between now and the end of 2016.