Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Bumpy Hopes Worcs Will Peak At Right Time After Winter-Pre Season Programme

Bumpy Hopes Worcs Will Peak At Right Time After Winter-Pre Season Programme

Steve Rhodes is hoping Worcestershire will peak at just the right time after their winter work schedule and pre-season programme of matches as they gear up for today's opening Specsavers County Championship clash with Kent at New Road.

The County began their countdown to the 2016 campaign in early November and underwent two months of strengthening and conditioning work before starting regular nets at Malvern College in January.

Then came the regular pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi which, despite being hit by the weather, still involved four and a half days cricket followed by beneficial work-outs in this country against Oxford MCCU and Warwickshire.

Rhodes said: "The three days at Oxford was good. We got through without any problems with the rain, we had a bat and bowl, the lads got plenty of time in the middle and I was pleased with the result and also the amount of practice we managed to get.

"That was excellent practice and, with the two days at Edgbaston, there was a little bit of weather around so it wasn't easy but we still managed to get a good hit.

"Thursday would have been our last heavy training session but for the weather sadly intervening.

"Generally from speaking to the boys, they feel quite ready and we have slowly, slowly been getting better and better and hopefully we are peaking at the right time which is the first game."

Worcestershire overcame Kent in the opening game at New Road two years ago on their way to clinching promotion to Division Two.

But Rhodes said all his focus is on the current fixture.

He said: "We just go into every single game we play wanting to win and trying to get ourselves into a winning position and it is no different whoever we play.

"What happened two years ago means nothing to me. It is all about how well we do over the next four days.

"Kent are a dangerous team. The bookies are generally pretty accurate with where they put people and I think they are fourth-fifth favourites to win it (Division Two) and I think that is fair enough.

"There are some good sides in Division Two and Kent are one of them.

"I think it is up to us to make sure we start well and concentrate on our game and worry about what we can do well rather than the opposition."

The change in format of the Championship for 2017 with an eight team-ten team split in the two divisions means only one side will be promoted this summer.

Rhodes said: "Regarding our task of getting promoted, you don't have to be Einstein to understand it is a lot more difficult now with what was two promoted out of nine teams now being one up out of nine teams.

"That is quite a gut wrenching blow to be honest for the sides in Division Two.

"There are eight other teams who would love to get promoted as well at the end of the year and to have that taken away from us (two being promoted) so close to the start of the season is a real blow for those teams.

"Whilst the ECB obviously feel they have good reason for doing that, it doesn't take away from a little bit of the disappointment that the teams in Division Two will have knowing only one team is going to go up."