OPPONENTS: LEICESTERSHIRE CCC
Championship Division 3: 4th
Vitality Blast North Group: 6th
Royal London Cup Group 2: 4th
Director of Cricket: Claude Henderson
Head Coach: Paul Nixon
Captains: Colin Ackermann (CC), Lewis Hill (RLC)
Overseas: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (AFG), Naveen-ul-Haq (AFG), Beuran Hendricks (SA), Wiaan Mulder (SA)
ONE TO WATCH: Hassan Azad
SURPRISE PACKAGE: Louis Kimber
It’s almost that time of the year. The County Championship returns this week, with tangible excitement in the air ahead of our trip to Leicestershire in our opening fixture.
Having beaten our opponents on the final day of last season in September, we signed off our 2021 season in style.
Five bowlers shared the wickets that day as Joe Leach picked up an impressive 3-38, as we bowled the Foxes out for 222 in their first innings.
Half-centuries from Jake Libby, Charlie Morris and Ben Cox saw us post 422 in our first innings, a lead of 200.
Former Pear George Rhodes scored 90 but battled in vain as they managed only 211 runs in their second innings, which left Worcestershire with the small task of 12 runs, which they polished off with minimal fuss and earnt a 10-wicket victory.
Recent results also suggest a similar pattern in Worcestershire’s favour having won the last five matches in the four-day game stretching back to May 2016, with Alexei Kervezee hitting the winning runs in a seven-wicket win at Grace Road that day.
LAST 5 RESULTS:
WORCS won by 10 wickets – Sept 21, 2021
WORCS won by an innings and 18 runs – Apr 11, 2019
WORCS won by 6 wickets – Sept 12, 2017
WORCS won by 3 wickets – Jul 03, 2016
WORCS won by 7 wickets – May 22, 2016
Dutch-South African Colin Ackermann leads Leicestershire’s this campaign entering his third season as Foxes captain, representing the county in all three formats.
His average of 40.59, scoring 8,728 runs in 140 matches, makes him an experienced player at the helm.
Former Pear George Rhodes plays a pivotal role in their batting line-up, batting at number three, and looks in decent nick, having made 65 in their warm-up game against Leeds/Bradford UCCE.
One-day captain Lewis Hill offers a selection headache after Harry Swindells became the first-choice wicketkeeper a couple of seasons back.
In November, Hill signed a new contract, having scored 1,457 runs in all three formats last term, topping both County Championship and One Day cup totals for the Foxes.
One to go under the England radar is left-arm bowler Callum Parkinson, twin brother of Lancashire star Matt Parkinson.
With a tidy record with the ball in hand and a useful lower-order batsman, this season is a crucial one for him, having already made waves in the T20 format.
A first-class record of 104 wickets at 36.46 suggests there’s more to come, but with 50 wickets to his name last season, a continuation of that form this campaign won’t surprise many followers of the county scene.
Beuran Hendricks offers a genuine threat as an overseas signing; with him looking likely to be around for much of the summer, getting his signature could be successful.
Fellow Protea Wiaan Mulder also signed back in November, having missed out on last season due to international commitments, but a report suggesting he may not be around again this term will be a concern.
Right-arm fast bowler Will Davis impressed on day one of their warm-up clash against Leeds/Bradford UCCE, taking 3-37 in 19 overs producing quality and an excellent economy with the lowest figures of all Leicestershire bowlers bar Rhodes, who only bowled two overs.
Opening batsman Hassan Azad has had some journey to get to opening the batting at Leicestershire, having been released by Nottinghamshire in 2014. A crucial 152 at home to Sussex last September earnt him his role back, having played second XI cricket previous summer. Joe Leach was the man to dismiss him in both innings when the two sides met in the last game of the season at New Road last term.
An average of 39.33 from 41 first-class games is only bettered by Ackermann though in the Foxes’ ranks, and only fractionally, making him one to watch.
In the news off the field, former Somerset legend Alfonso Thomas was named First XI Assistant Coach and Lead Bowling Coach at the Upton Steel County Ground following Tom Smith’s move to Yorkshire.
Guest written by Josh Evans