GARETH Andrew is poised to hand Worcestershire a massive boost by making his long-awaited comeback in today’s LV= County Championship Division One contest with Sussex at New Road (11am).
The influential all-rounder has been named in director of cricket Steve Rhodes’ 12-man squad for the match and, barring any late problems, is set to make the starting XI.
Andrew took 52 first-class wickets for the County last term as well as scoring 666 runs and Rhodes admits the 28-year-old’s return will be like having a new signing.
However, Worcestershire’s bowling attack is without experienced seamer Alan Richardson, who has a grade two tear in his shoulder and will be sidelined for around three weeks.
Rhodes said: “Gareth came through our session yesterday and, if he pulls up OK today, will get a start.
“He was up there in the rankings last year, but we can’t expect miracles straight away and I don’t want to put too much pressure on his shoulders as he has been out for a long time.
“I know he’s a confident bloke and, if he does have a great game, we’ll all be delighted for him.
“However, Alan will be sorely missed. Gareth won’t fill Alan’s boots in terms of his bowling or experience as he is only just coming back into the team.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that Alan will be back in three weeks.”
While Rhodes insists there are no easy games in the top-flight, he felt his side gained a confidence boost with the Clydesdale Bank40 victory over Essex.
He added: “It was a big lift to get a win under our belt in Chelmsford.
“We also hung on for a draw in the Championship game with Surrey, which was a bonus.
“However, the win against Essex picked up the spirit in the squad and we will crack on and take Sussex on full of confidence.
“They will have Steve Magoffin in their side and the conditions will be helpful for him with the wicket having sweated under the covers a little bit.
“If there is anything to be had out of the pitch, he will find it.
“He is a very good bowler and we will respect him.”
Sussex’s England wicketkeeper Matt Prior is on international duty ahead of the first Test with West Indies and is replaced by Ben Brown.
Worcestershire (from): Klinger, Mitchell (c), Solanki, Moeen, Cameron, Pardoe, Andrew, Scott (wk), Kapil, Jones, Lucas, Shantry.
Sussex (from): Khan, Anyon, Brown (wk), Gatting, Goodwin, Naved Arif, Joyce, Magoffin, Nash, Panesar, Wells, Yardy (c).