BRETT D’Oliveira will be handed his chance to shine tonight as Worcestershire launch their FriendsLife t20 campaign at Warwickshire (5.10pm).
The 20-year-old leg-spinning all-rounder has been named in director of cricket Steve Rhodes’ 14-man squad and is poised to get the nod in the derby against the Bears at Edgbaston.
D’Oliveira has only made one first class appearance for the New Road side since signing a professional contract – the six-wicket Clydesdale Bank 40 defeat to Yorkshire at Headingley last August – and has been with the second XI so far this term.
But Rhodes, who has also included fellow second XI regulars pace bowler Nick Harrison and all-rounder Neil Pinner, is keen to blood him and believes the short format of the game will suit his style.
The County chief, who is without overseas signing Sohail Tanvir because he is still with Pakistan, said: “Sometimes younger legs help with the fielding and Brett is a very good example. He’s a good fielder and he can bowl and bat so that suits the all-rounder for Twenty20. He will play.”
Tonight’s showdown, live on Sky Sports, is expected to attract a large crowd as Worcestershire bid to repeat last season’s double success against Ashley Giles’ men, which saw them win by one wicket at Edgbaston and six runs at New Road.
There is a fierce rivalry between the teams and Rhodes knows how much victory would mean to his players.
He said: “I was brought up in Yorkshire with the Roses battles against Lancashire. I didn’t play in any first-class matches but I played in Worcestershire-Warwickshire derbies and we seem to enjoy trying to get a victory against the Bears more than anything.
“I am sure the Roses battles were intense but to play against Warwickshire and beat them is an achievement. It will be our goal but it’s the same for them.
“Let’s hope the weather doesn’t intervene.
“I understand it’s going to be a packed crowd and with those sort of numbers there will be a lot of disappointed people.”
The Bears have already lost one match in the competition – Wednesday night’s opening 63-run defeat at Somerset – while Worcestershire warmed up with a narrow 13-run victory at Shropshire. Having posted 123-8, captain Daryl Mitchell and Moeen Ali both took wickets to put the brakes on their Minor Counties hosts after former County batsman Ed Foster had struck a 20-ball 31 in helping Shropshire to 60-1.
Worcestershire (from): Moeen, Solanki, Hughes, Cameron, Mitchell, Kervezee, Andrew, Kapil, D’Oliveira, Scott, Lucas, Harrison, Shantry, Pinner.