WORCESTERSHIRE off-spinner Gareth Batty looks ready to sign for Surrey at the end of the season.

The England off-spinner has been released from the final year of his contract at New Road after informing the club he wished to leave.

The 31-year-old is believed to have held talks with several counties including rivals Warwickshire, Middlesex and his former club Surrey, who are favourites to sign him.

But while the County’s vice-captain has featured in all Worcestershire’s one-day games, the Yorkshireman has been dropped for the last two home Championship matches.

“Gareth will not play today against Nottinghamshire,” Rhodes said. “The decision was a little bit tactical and a little in light of this news.

“Gareth is still part of our one-day plans, but if that needs reviewing then we will do so.”

Rhodes is disappointed that Batty will be following Eng-land wicketkeeper Steve Davies in deciding to leave for pastures new.

“You never want your better players to leave,” he said. “But I’m driven by what is best for Worcestershire.

“If a player feels they have to leave to further their car-eers then we won’t stand in their way. We have to respect their decision and look at filling the holes they leave.

“Losing Steve and now Gareth leaves us with two big holes, but it does mean there is revenue to replace them.”

Batty, who joined Worcestershire in 2002, admits he has struggled for form this season in the Championship.

With one year remaining on his contract, the spinner, who made a shock return to the England one-day side in the winter, felt the time was right for him to leave.

“It has been a difficult decision but I will leave the club with fond memories,” Batty said.

“I’m here until the end of the season and I will continue to give my all.

“I have had eight good years at Worcestershire, but I felt I needed a change.”

During his eight seasons at New Road, Batty has played 116 first-class matches taking 318 wickets at 33.37 apiece. He has 10 victims at 72.4 this term.

In List ‘A’ cricket the spinner has taken 119 wickets at 33.41 in 138 games. This season he has 11 at 33.09.