JOE Clarke will look to keep Worcestershire Rapids' faint NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final hopes alive at Durham Jets tomorrow night (6.30pm).

Second-from-bottom Rapids are six points off the North Group top four with only four games left so effectively need to win all of them to stand any chance.

Clarke says he has reaped the benefits of developing his upper body strength in becoming a six-hitting force after admitting he could have been dropped last summer because of his form in the short format.

He has been a success in the County Championship since breaking into the side just over two years ago.

But the prolific run-making in red-ball cricket did not transfer into T20 cricket until this summer.

Clarke goes into the match at Emirates Riverside having struck 19 sixes and with the highest strike-rate of any batsman in the competition at 196.44.

He smashed a 45-ball hundred in the eight-wicket win at home to Jets two weeks ago which was the joint fastest century of the season alongside Alex Hales.

Clarke was given the chance to open in the T20 after Tom Kohler-Cadmore left for Yorkshire.

The England Lions batsman said: “Last year I struggled because I didn’t really know my game in T20 cricket. 

“Last year I thought I was droppable from the T20 side because I wasn’t putting in consistent performances.

“I knew I had to do something different and go away from how I play in one-day cricket and Championship cricket and do what is needed for the team and myself.

“I spent the winter away and I guess I’ve come back more direct in the way I play my T20 cricket or want to play it.

“I’ve done hard work in the gym and worked a lot on my upper body stuff to get myself bigger to be able to clear the ropes. 

“These days it is the big lads who are the ones who are clearing the boundary. That has helped a bit.

"I’m just trying to get as big as I can to hit sixes because that’s what is needed in this form these days.

“I’ve done a lot of power-hitting stuff with Lions and a guy called Julian Wood. It opened me out to thinking I can actually do this.

“I’ve got a good bat as well! If I get it slightly out of the middle then it’s been going over the boundary.”

Clarke enjoys the challenge of going in first and has already played several destructive innings, most notably 124 off 53 balls against Jets.

He said: “I’m happy to bat wherever I’m asked and opening I guess came more naturally than batting lower down the order.

“Credit to Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) and Leachy (skipper Joe Leach) for deciding to go with me there.

"I feel as though that’s the best place for me to bat in this format and I’m loving it.”

Clarke is full of admiration for Durham veteran Paul Collingwood who also scored a century in the first meeting at New Road.

He said: “Is Collingwood an inspiration? Yes 100 per cent. For me I’ll also be trying to play for as long as I can. 

“You never know what is around the corner but he is a credit to himself and the way he has kept himself in that physical condition to still be playing at 41 and to get a T20 hundred shows just why he was so successful at the top.”

Rapids go on to host Notts Outlaws at New Road on Sunday (2.30pm).

Australian all-rounder John Hastings misses the rest of the County's season with a foot injury.

Rapids from: Clarke, Cox, Santner, D’Oliveira, Whiteley, Mitchell, Barnard, Leach, Hepburn, Tongue, Scrimshaw, Brown.