A CRICKETER accused of two rapes put his head in his hands when a jury failed to reach verdicts in his trial, meaning he and his alleged victim may have to go through it all again.

Former Worcestershire County cricketer Alex Hepburn looked pale and weary as he broke down in the dock at Worcester Crown Court after learning he could face a retrial in April.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service is now considering whether another trial is 'appropriate' in the wake of the hung jury's verdicts.

The 23-year-old of Portland Street, Diglis, Worcester, denies two counts of rape against a woman said to have been committed at a Worcester flat he shared with teammate and 'best friend' Joe Clarke on April 1, 2017.

However, the jury of four men and eight women became deadlocked and had to be given further direction and clarification by judge Jim Tindal. At noon the judge gave them a majority direction, telling the panel they should still work towards reaching unanimous verdicts where possible but that majority verdicts of 11 to 1 or 10 to 2 were now acceptable on both counts.

However, after nine hours and 17 minutes spent deliberating over two days the jury was called in again to gauge the likelihood of members reaching any kind of consensus.

The panel was asked, were it to be given more time, if majority verdicts on at which least 10 of the panel agreed would be reached. The foreman returned a short while later and said panel members did not believe that they would reach a majority even if permitted more time.

Judge Tindal discharged the jury, thanking the panel for its efforts. He said: "You have made, in fairness, your position very clear. It's an extremely difficult, high pressure case."

Hepburn was seen to slump forward in the dock with his head in his hands. When he raised his face he looked pale and anxious and close to tears. The judge fixed the provisional date of the retrial for April 8, a date convenient to both prosecutor Miranda Moore QC and Hepburn's barrister, Michelle Heeley QC.

Speaking to Hepburn, the judge said: "I'm sorry. It's never an ideal situation. It's not ideal for you. It's not ideal for the complainant but there you are."

The trial has been tense and highly emotional with both the complainant and the defendant breaking down in the witness box. The background to the case included a series of WhatsApp messages between Hepburn, Clarke and another male about 'a game' of sexual conquest. The messages began on March 27, a few days before the alleged rapes.

They involved the men discussing the game which involved them competing to see who could have sex with the most women, rating them on their looks, rating their own performance and describing whether they used a condom or not. Only 'freshies' (women they had not had sex with before) counted towards the tally and Hepburn said the conquests had to be 'legit' which meant prostitutes did not count.

Hepburn claimed that sex with the complainant in the case was consensual and that he believed she knew she was having sex with him and not his then teammate, Joe Clarke. He told the jury he did not initially realise there was anyone else on the mattress when he climbed into bed.

He said the woman rolled over and kissed him which progressed to 20 minutes of sex. He said he could see her face and that she had her eyes open.

However, the complainant who was interviewed on a video played to the jury and appeared as a live witness, giving evidence behind a screen, said she woke up to find Hepburn with his penis in her mouth, believing it was Mr Clarke 'being a bit cheeky'.

She told the jury she tended to close her eyes during sex and that it continued because she believed Hepburn was Mr Clarke.

She and Mr Clarke had enjoyed consensual sex earlier that morning after the two arrived together at the flat from Worcester nightclub Bushwackers and before Hepburn returned to the flat also had sex with her.

The woman claimed both men were of similar build and that she had not realised she was having sex with Hepburn until she heard his Australian accent, pushing him off and asking 'where's Joe?'.

She said she called her housemate from the ensuite bathroom before she found Mr Clarke in another bathroom asleep where he had gone to be sick, telling him that Hepburn had raped her.

Judge Tindal said at an earlier stage of the case that this was 'the closest this case gets to chivalry'.

The woman described how she called Hepburn 'a sick bastard' and left the flat where she was found sobbing in the street by a passer-by who was on her way to work and called 999 on her behalf.

She described the complainant as 'wailing' and her cries could clearly be heard on a recording of the call which was played to the jury.

In the course of police enquiries Mr Clarke was also arrested though no charges were ever brought, a decision criticised during the trial several times by the judge.

At one stage he told the jury: "If you're wondering why he was arrested, you're not the only one."

Hepburn's professional cricketing career has effectively been on hold since the allegations came to light although he has continued to play as an amateur. Hepburn was suspended on full play until his contract with the club came to an end.

The case generated significant press interest with television crews and photographers, including some from Australia, reporting the case. Every day Hepburn walked past a large group of photographers and reporters as he entered the court.

The large press bench in court two was full yesterday, so much so that extra chairs had to be put out. Even then there were too few seats so many had to sit up in the public gallery.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said the Crown Prosecution Service 'will now decide if a retrial is appropriate' and added: "We are unable to comment further at this time."