Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Rapids Rise For 2014 – Monday 27Th March 2014

Rapids Rise For 2014 – Monday 27Th March 2014

The flood water may have dropped but the Rapids are about to rise at New Road as 2014 will see Worcestershire County Cricket Club transform into the Worcestershire Rapids for NatWest T20 Blast.

This season's NatWest T20 Blast will see Worcestershire playing under their new T20 name which combines the now annual floods associated with New Road and the exciting type of cricket they hope to produce in the competition.

The county will strive for glory under the banner of Worcestershire Rapids during 2014 as they aim to book a place at finals day in August – with the help of leading spinner Saeed Ajmal – for the first time.

Worcestershire opted to drop the 'Royals' part of their branding last season as it clashed with the name intended to be used in the short form of the game by Hampshire.

Whilst the new Rapids nickname fits rather well with the more American sports style, franchise nature of modern day t20 cricket, there is a much deeper thought process behind the brand change which embraces a historic aspect of Worcestershire CCC.

The term "rapid" has two connotations that can be used in very different contexts, both of which can be aptly related to Worcestershire CCC.

The first, "a fast-flowing and turbulent part of the course of a river", is something which New Road has without doubt become synonymous with due to the frequent flooding at the ground over the years.

Though traditionally under water for a few weeks each winter, come the summer the second meaning, "characterized by great speed", becomes applicable as it represents the dynamic nature of NatWest T20 Blast cricket that sweeps across the county game.

Whilst the devastation caused by flooding is a terrible thing for the club, it has become almost as symbolic with Worcestershire CCC as the iconic view of the Cathedral and is embraced to create something positive that can be used as a vehicle for the club going forwards.

The new branding is also at the forefront of what will be a revamped match day experience for spectators, with all age groups – but in particular the 18 to 35 group – being targeted.

This will go alongside the exciting and quality cricket that will be striven for from skipper Daryl Mitchell and his players – with Ajmal leading the way as the world's number two ranked bowler in T20 cricket.

Worcestershire's Business Development Director Jon Graham explained: "Four day cricket is our bread and butter and our membership is vitally important to us, which is evident in that we generate close to half a million pound through membership each season. Whilst we will be known as the Worcestershire Rapids for NatWest T20 Blast, we will certainly be staying as Worcestershire CCC for both four day and one day cricket.

"However, we see a different audience that comes to watch this shortened format of the game and we need a brand that compliments that. We did a lot of internal soul searching over the last 12 months to come up with an identity that people can relate to.

"We thought of a name that combines the regular floods, and this time there literally were rapids lapping up against the side of the buildings at New Road, with the fast paced style of cricket that is synonymous with NatWest T20 Blast. The competition will produce rapid runs, rapid wickets and rapid cricket so I think people can really relate to that.

"It's a fantastic identity to make sure Worcestershire is really up there with everyone else in terms of marketing strategy and, having a brand like Rapids, people can really associate with it. We should never forget the resilience of this fantastic club as we always come back in the face of adversity. This strength is testament to the staff at Worcestershire County Cricket Club, from CEO to part time staff, and the Rapids brand is an extension of this"

"Hopefully, if I am doing my job properly, people will be saying in the summer 'we're going to watch the Rapids on Friday night' because that ultimately is where we need to go.

"We will be pushing the brand out everywhere and hopefully over the summer you will see the Rapids name all over the city, be it a replica shirt, t-shirt, hat, whatever."

Graham recognises the importance and significance of NatWest T20 Blast cricket but also wants to make the whole match day experience a memorable affair.

He said: "We are going to treat it as an entertainment, a venue, a place to be on five Friday nights, a Saturday and a Sunday and ultimately it's about the build-up to the game on each match day.

"We want to try and bring a bit of life to the city. Music is going to be key and we are going to have live music both inside and outside the ground.

"Our traditional business and corporate business will be housed in the new 'The View' facilities but we want something relative to our main target audience, probably 18s to 35s, and the marquee is going to be rebranded as The Watershed marquee bar.

"Again it is called that to have that connection with the Rapids brand. Everything we do with the Rapids follows through so, from a marketing perspective, everything we do, there is a reason behind it.

"What we are trying to do is provide really good value for money and really good entertainment."

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