WORCESTERSHIRE boss Alex Gidman is not surprised by the competitive nature of Specsavers County Championship Division Two in the battle to claim one of the three promotion places.

First-team coach Gidman made no pre-season forecasts – except to predict the strength of the division – and the past month or so has borne that out.

Worcestershire have faced Lancashire twice, tackled Middlesex and gone up against an in-form Sussex side and leaders Glamorgan.

The latter two fixtures were typical of the cricket on display this season with no-one giving an inch.

Worcestershire had the better of a drawn encounter against Sussex at Kidderminster before scrapping it out for a share of the spoils at Glamorgan with Brett D’Oliveira starring with bat and ball.

Gidman’s side have now reached the half-way stage of their Championship campaign and are lying in sixth spot.

But they have games in hand on all the sides above them – including two on Glamorgan and Sussex who are in the top three.

County will hope to return to winning ways when they host fourth-placed Derbyshire at Kidderminster on Sunday.

Gidman said: “We’ve played Lancashire twice, Middlesex and Sussex and Glamorgan.

“You have got to be ready for games. There is no hiding place.

“I said at the beginning of the season that this division, particularly this year, is very strong.

“There are a lot of very good teams that are performing very well. We have no divine right to assume we would finish here or there – or beat them or them.

“We’ve got to take each game as it comes and we will be doing our utmost to win the next one (against Derbyshire).

“Was I anticipating this season being so competitive? Genuinely I was.

“I did think that from the very beginning.

“I never made any statements about where we would finish or what we would do.

“It was about taking each game as it comes and that will continue to be the case.

“I’m not surprised. There are some very talented cricketers in each team and when each team is fully fit, which seems to be the case with the majority of the teams, it is very competitive.

“It is an exciting league to be in.”

It will be the first fixture between Derbyshire and Worcestershire since the final game of the 2016 season. This game was scheduled to be staged at New Road.

But as a result of flooding in mid-June, an early decision was taken to relocate the game to Kidderminster.