Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Bumpy Hoping For More Success With Lions In 50 Over Format

Bumpy Hoping For More Success With Lions In 50 Over Format

Worcestershire Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes is at the half-way point of a two stage coaching appointment with the England Lions this winter.

Rhodes was part of the backroom team which oversaw a thrilling 3-2 win against Pakistan 'A' in a best of five T20 series.

He has returned home – along with Worcestershire duo Ross Whiteley and Joe Clarke for the festive season – but the trio will be flying back out to the UAE in early January for five 50 over games against Pakistan 'A'.

Here Rhodes looks back with the Worcestershire CCC website at the Lions experience and his hopes for the second half of the winter.


QUESTION: How much of a great experience was that for you?

STEVE RHODES: "It was a great experience for me personally and I think for the rest of the touring party, staff and players.

"We had eight really good games of cricket, three warm-up games against UAE and five T20s against Pakistan.

"It certainly tested us because the Pakistan 'A' team was quite experienced. For three of the five games, they outcapped us by six to one in terms of fielding T20 and ODI international players, 120 odd to our 20 odd caps.

"They were far more experienced but in those conditions, which probably suited them better as well, we did well to win.

"It was a very tight series. It all came down to the last game and to fight back from 2-1 down to get it to a last final game was a great effort by the team.

"To win it in a Super Over when we were chasing 165, was also a very good effort. It went down to the very last ball of the series.

"How can you judge it? Has it been a great tour because we won last ball or would it have been a bad tour if we had lost off the last ball. Who knows.

"But certainly an enjoyable one, lots of learning and we've got some very good cricketers."

QUESTION: What was your role out there?

STEVE RHODES: "When I initially arrived (November 25) they were still in the training camp phase. They were working on a lot of skill development and had all the head coaches out there like Bruce French (wicket-keeping), Peter Such (spin bowling), Chris Taylor (fielding), Graham Thorpe (batting).

"The pace bowlers had actually been out in South Africa but Richard Johnson was there to look after the fast bowlers.

"I had what I would call a 'helicopter role' in that early phase, I was hovering around! But as the playing phase started to gain momentum, that was when quite a lot of the specialist coaches disappeared.

"I took over the wicket-keepers and was very much in charge of the fielding but there mainly to assist – and assistant coach means assisting the head coach but also means assisting all of the players.

"It was a nice role to fill. I now know Mase (Matt Mason) has now got an easy job at Worcester being an assistant coach! (a joke). It is the type of job where your relationship with the players is a close one because you are not seen as any threat.

"You are not the one picking the side, you are not the one de-selecting players, you are not the one, in county cricket, that hires and fires. It is quite a nice position to be in."

QUESTION: You now have the challenge of five 50 over games v Pakistan 'A' after Christmas?

STEVE RHODES: "It will be good for the players. It will be hard for the players because they are long games abroad when the sun is shining and it's quite taxing physically and mentally.

"But it will be good also to see what sort of tactics we come up with to play because they are forever changing the rules. We've got some good rules at the moment in 50 over cricket so it will be interesting to see how we set our plans for that and how we carry them out.

"Also seeing how Andy Flower wants to work that but also Garry Kirsten is going out there for a period of time, so picking his brains, tactically, technically, but also on teams will be excellent.

"But most of all we are in this to try and win. As a player, that was the thing that drove me on and its the same as a coach and for England Lions now, it's exactly the same for me.

"Of course, we want people to learn and progress and this to be part of their learning to get to the next level – but we want to win and try and beat Pakistan 'A' again."

QUESTION: How much have you learnt that Worcestershire might benefit from?

STEVE RHODES: "I've learnt a lot. I don't want to go into any details about what I've learnt but I've learnt a hell of a lot. But also what it has rubber-stamped for me, which is encouraging, is that a lot of what we do here already is brilliant and the way we try and prepare our players obviously means we are in a good spot because I can see we do some good things here at Worcester."

QUESTION: It must have been different to you compared to being in charge at New Road?

STEVE RHODES: "The role didn't bother me. It is a comfortable role with the players. Working with Andy Flower was good for me because he has had a successful career as a player and as a coach.

"If you do have ideas or thoughts for Andy, you make sure they are well thought through before you present them because you want to make sure whatever information you do give is the right stuff."