Kadeer Ali says Worcestershire will benefit from a Second Eleven fixture list which largely mirrors that of the senior side – including a switch to four-day Championship cricket in 2021.
The County will play eight four-day Second Eleven Championship fixtures – with a block of five early-season matches – before reverting to a T20 programme throughout June.
Another batch of Championship matches will conclude the season, including the second of two four-day Seconds matches scheduled for New Road this summer.
It is a welcome return to a complete fixture list after the challenges of COVID-19 meant very little second XI cricket was played in 2020.
Kadder said: “Four-day cricket will be great this year. Firstly we will mirror exactly what happens in first-team cricket. Secondly, it’s a great opportunity and allows for lads to put in place our constant messages about batting long periods and hitting consistent areas with the ball, not just for a session but for three or four sessions.
“In my experience of three-day cricket, you end up manufacturing a lot of games, declarations are made purely to set up an exciting game, and it can be frustrating at times for players.
“Now, hopefully, the games will run a lot smoother, and we will see some better cricket, in my opinion.
“You find out a lot about young cricketers on the fourth day. The pressure of saving a game with the bat or having to bowl a side out is what we want our younger players to go through and experience regularly.”
In terms of having a fixture list similar to the first team programme, Kadeer said: “Yes, that was the plan to try and play alongside the first team programme.
“The lads must be playing and, if there are injuries or a lack of form, then we wanted guys ready and pushing for places.
“We have a strong squad, and everyone is capable of playing first-team cricket, so an opportunity is there for lads to put in some performances and put some pressure on.
“With the first team fixture schedule so busy for the first ten weeks with Championship cricket, it is even more critical that we have guys ready to step up, if and when required.
“After last year, when there was pretty much nothing in terms of Second Eleven cricket, it was important we got the season up and running and got a lot of cricket in because some of the lads hardly played last season.
“Having spent a lot of time with them in nets, side-arming, watching them practice and working hard, now it will be nice to see them actually playing some matches, and hopefully transferring what we see in practice into games”.
The Seconds are currently scheduled to host Glamorgan at New Road for four days from May 4 and then Warwickshire from August 23.
Kadeer said: “It will be amazing for the young lads to get used to the surroundings, the wicket, walking out to bat or bowl at New Road, and hopefully it won’t be a new experience when they go on and play first-team cricket”.
He will call on the County’s Head of Coach and Player Development experience, Kevin Sharp, who himself spent four years as Second Eleven Coach at New Road.
Kadeer said: “Kevin is down to travel with me for a few of the away games and spend quite a bit of time with me this summer, and I work pretty closely with him anyway on practice days, and I try and pick his brains as much as possible.
“To have him around with me, in the early part of my coaching career at this level, will be brilliant. He has so much experience, and I have so much learning to do.”
TONGUE AND BROWN NAMED IN SECONDS SQUAD FOR OPENING FRIENDLY
Josh Tongue and Pat Brown are included in the Worcestershire Seconds squad for their opening game of the campaign against Exeter University at Kidderminster tomorrow (11am start).
The pace duo are set to feature in the 50-over friendly encounter at Chester Road.
Tongue and Brown are continuing their comeback from shoulder and back injuries, respectively.
Head Coach Alex Gidman had confirmed at last months Special General Meeting that he expected the pair to be fit for the beginning of the Seconds programme.
All-rounder Ross Whiteley will captain the Seconds with Alex Milton keeping wicket.
Ross Whiteley *
Alex Milton +
Zain Ul Hassan
2XI FIXTURES 2021
7 – Exeter University (Kidderminster) – F
11 – Shropshire (away venue TBC) – T20 x 2 F
12,13,14,15 – Gloucestershire (Kidderminster) SEC
19,20,21,22 – Somerset (Taunton Vale) SEC
26,27,28,29 – Lancashire (Kidderminster) SEC
4,5,6,7 – Glamorgan (New Road) SEC
24,25,26,27 – Northamptonshire (Milton Keynes) SEC
31 – Somerset (Barnet Green) SET20
2 – Gloucestershire (Bristol) SET20
3 – Warwickshire (Barnt Green) SET20 x 2
4 – Northamptonshire (Northampton) SET20 X 2
7 – Glamorgan (Newport) SET20
8 – Gloucestershire (Kidderminster) SET20
10 – Somerset (Taunton Vale) SET20
14 – Northamptonshire (Barnt Green) T20 FRIENDLY
17 – Glamorgan (Stourbridge) – SET20
5 – Nottinghamshire (Lady Bay CC) SEC
23 – Warwickshire (New Road) SEC
13 – Yorkshire (Scarborough) SEC