WORCESTERSHIRE are preparing to step up their search for a new batsman for next season.

They have a target in mind and are hoping to be able to open talks with him in the near future.

New Road cricket committee chairman Martin Hor-ton said moves concerning the player are at a preliminary stage.

Worcestershire will not identify who is their target, but he is understood to be keen to leave his current county.

The player has been playing regular first-class cricket, but confirmation of his possible availability has yet to be made.

It is believed that New Road officials will be checking out the player's current situation and will then consider whether to make an official approach to his county.

Horton stressed that Worcestershire's top priority is to strengthen their batting line-up now that they have given their bowling department a world-class boost by capturing Australian pace ace Glenn McGrath.

His eagerly-awaited arrival at New Road means that a number of players who are now coming onto the market do not fit into Worcester-shire's plans.

One of the most recent is former England seamer Tim Munton who is seeking another county after 15 seasons with Warwickshire.

"We are interested in any player who comes up, but it's a batsman really that we are looking for. That's our biggest requirement," said Horton.

Worcestershire believe that, coupled with the capture of McGrath, a new batsman would be a key acquisition in their bid to gain promotion next season to the top division of the County Championship.

Last term they suffered badly for their dismal tally of batting bonus points.

Time and again they lost first innings wickets cheaply and by the end of the campaign had collected only 18 points -- fewer than any other county -- for their below-par efforts.

It was a major factor in them finishing in 15th place in the County Championship table.