Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Leatherdale Pays Tribute To Rhodes As He Clocks Up 10 Years In New Road Hotseat

Leatherdale Pays Tribute To Rhodes As He Clocks Up 10 Years In New Road Hotseat

Worcestershire CCC chief executive David Leatherdale has paid tribute to Steve Rhodes who this month is celebrating 10 years as the county's Director of Cricket.

Rhodes took over mid-way through the 2005 season from Tom Moody – only a few months after ending a distinguished playing career of two decades with the county.

It was a sooner than expected elevation into the hotseat after Moody left to become coach of Sri Lanka but the 51-year-old has grown with distinction into the role.

Inevitably there have been ups and downs – four promotions and three relegations in the LV = County Championship, winning the 2007 Pro40 League and now leading the club to their first ever home NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final.

Rhodes had to contend with his cricket budget being reduced in the aftermath of the 2007 summer floods and the exodus of senior players in 2009 but now the green shoots of his decision to put more accent on youth are being seen in the current crop of players.

Leatherdale said: "It is 30 years that he has been here – player, man and boy. He took over when Tom Moody left during the early part of the 2005 season, quite a difficult sort of period when we had Shoaib Akhtar and these sorts of guys.

"He's been through, like the club, some difficult times on and off the pitch and he's managed things exceptionally well and we are now starting to bear some of the fruit of the work that has gone in with trying to bring some of the younger guys through.

"It's pretty common knowledge that our players' budgets are certainly not by any means the greatest out of the 18 counties and generally sit in the bottom third.

"So to manage the squad as he has, and to bring the players through that we have, is a fine sort of effort and going forward hopefully we've got another crop of players over his 10 years time now that are starting to develop and going forward it should be quite positive.

"But Bumpy deserves a huge amount of credit for the time and effort that he puts in – and the rest of the coaching staff – in order to try and keep us at the highest level we can be with not the greatest budgets in the world."

Leatherdale added: "Was it strange adapting from being a player to being the boss? It was difficult in the first year or so. You are still very much a player and you are playing with guys and then you are in charge of them and looking after them.

"It is a different proposition now with the maturity of doing the role for 10 years.

"He is still close to the team and has got a huge amount of respect and the sort of disciplines that Bumpy had in his cricket as a player have carried on off the pitch with what he wants the lads to work on and what he terms and we term 'The Worcestershire Way.'

"But yes, it was difficult the first couple of years. People thought 'should there have been a break' (before he took over) but I think it has been proved now that it has been a good decision and we all know Bumpy's work ethic is second to none and long may it continue.

"There have been ups and downs and he has come through. If you think about it, 2007 was the season floods, 2009 we had the massive changes. Nothing of Bumpy's doing really, but finances were tough across the whole country at the time whether it be cricket, business in general, and all the recessions that went with it.

"He very much took it on the chin. He did get quite a lot of criticism and when you are losing five or six players in one year, it takes time to rebuild and we've been a bit topsy turvy and we've had players come and go over a period.

"But in the last three or four years we've had more players come through and we've had a steady nucleus of a squad that he is trying to build.

"There is no doubt that 2009, 2010 and 2011 were tough for the club in general and if people knew some of the work and difficulties that Bumpy had to put up with, in terms of the finances and what he had to work with, then many other county Directors of Cricket and coaches would not have taken it as well and done as well as he has.

"People don't see a lot of the work that goes on, like the seven o'clock starts at Malvern College in the winter. The structure of cricket, it's a seven day of week set-up and in the winter time as well now with guys on 12 months a year contract.

"It is a six, seven days a week in that period. They might get a bit of time off at the end of the season but Steve and Matt Mason also work with the academy, they work with the younger guys. Other directors of cricket don't. They will deal purely with first team cricket.

"Steve is adamant that there is a top to bottom approach and you will see him at Malvern College at seven in the morning before school starts with some of the scholarship lads and regularly members and spectators will see him here at the ground at lunch-times with wicket-keepers, starting with Coxy, Joe Clarke and Alex Milton who is with the MCC Young Cricketers.

"Regularly you will see him at lunch-time with the bowling machines and catching machines doing stuff out on the outfield. There is a massive coverage and if you actually analyse the hours some of these guys put in, members and spectators would be amazed."

*We are featuring '10 Years of Bumpy' in the next County 365 Magazine which will be published in time for the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final with Hampshire on August 14.