Jack Haynes has been included in the Worcestershire squad for the LV=Insurance County Championship return meeting with reigning champions Essex at New Road.
The England Under-19 player is named in a 13 strong party after scoring a superb 165 spanning six and a half hours on the opening day of the current Second Eleven Championship match with Lancashire at Stourport.
Haynes is added to the 12 players initially chosen for the drawn game with Nottinghamshire at New Road – the 11 who played plus Dillon Pennington.
The 20-year-old played all five matches in the Bob Willis Trophy last summer, scoring 285 runs at an average of 40.71 with two fifties, and is in contention to make his first senior appearance of 2021.
Head Coach Alex Gidman is delighted with the competition for places in all areas of the side.
He said: “Jack has gone away and done really, really well, which is what we’ve asked of all the second team players.
“There are two or three guys in the Seconds that are scoring a lot of runs, and they are putting a lot of pressure on which is precisely what we want.
“It’s the same with the bowlers. Josh Tongue has had a good couple of weeks and is proving his fitness, so there is some good healthy competition from all angles, which is precisely what we need as a whole squad.
“We’ve got an almost fully fit squad, and we’ve got a lot of hungry players.”
Gidman says achieving Consistency is a crucial factor in being successful.
Worcestershire have earned three draws in games of fluctuating fortunes from their first trio of matches, including in the opening game at Chelmsford, in obtaining second spot on Group One.
Every contest has highlighted the hard-fought nature of the cricket with little quarter given by Worcestershire or their opponents in excellent adverts for the red ball game, which Gidman feels has been reflected around the country.
Gidman said: “Consistency is what we, like every other county, are trying to achieve, whether that is T20 or four-day cricket.
“If we include last year, we’ve had eight games of tough red-ball cricket.
“The lads have tried extremely hard, and the effort and attitude are never in question and, if you get those two behaviours working with some good skills, which the lads have, we’ve got half a chance of being consistent.
“Essex is going to be yet another tough challenge. To play them twice in the first four games is a challenge in itself, let alone with the conditions we’ve had already and the amount of time the lads have spent on their feet.
“It’s going to be tough, but Essex have also been involved in some challenging games themselves already.
“It’s been an extremely competitive start to the season, I believe. It’s been an outstanding start to the season around the country for English cricket. It’s what the sport needed, a really good competitive start.
“Very few games have been easy. There have been some fantastic games of cricket played. We will do our best to challenge Essex as best as we can and try to get as many points as we can.”
Worcestershire CCC (from):
Ben Cox +
Joe Leach *