Alan Richardson believes Worcestershire CCC’s exciting crop of young pace bowlers are capable of obtaining “a lot higher ceilings” performance-wise as they gain more and more match experience.
Bowling Coach Richardson is gearing up for the start of pre-season training on Monday (November 8) in the New Road gymnasium and Malvern College.
The likes of Dillon Pennington, Adam Finch, newcomer Ben Gibbon, Mitchell Stanley and Josh Tongue – plus spinner Josh Baker – will blend in with the more experienced trio of Joe Leach, Charlie Morris and Ed Barnard.
Leach, Morris, Pennington, Finch, Stanley and Baker have all signed new contracts since the end of the season to re-affirm their commitment to Worcestershire.
Richardson said: “I was looking through it, and we have got nine domestic seamers and six or seven of them are 25 or below.
“It is an exciting group of bowlers, alongside Josh (Baker) who has had a meteoric rise over the last couple of months. We look at it, and it is exciting times.
“We have got some talent there and we have got guys who we think have got a lot higher ceilings to reach than they are presently playing at because they are young and gaining experience and being exposed to games.
“It is exciting to think what might lie ahead and great they are also committing their futures to Worcestershire.”
Richardson outlined the four-month winter programme the bowling group will go through in the lead-up to the friendlies in March and the 2022 campaign.
He said: “It is quite individual. Yes, we have got a young and exciting group but also got a couple of senior guys in there who are in different parts of their career.
“We all report back and it will be a reasonable emphasis on fitness to get them in as good a condition as we can.
“There will be some who will want to bowl before Christmas, work on specific things they really want to look at and improve upon, and some strengths they want to keep working on.
“It will be quite individual in that five week block up until Christmas and then they will start to get more into working as a team, or as a partnership, and start bowling at batters in the New Year.
“We will build them up nicely through November and December ready to have a good six- seven week block at Malvern bowling at batters, not probably quite as much technical work, but some tactical work and just getting into being as competitive as possible.”
Pennington has made the biggest impact of the young crop of bowlers and his performances for Worcestershire earned him a call-up for The Hundred with Birmingham Phoenix.
Richardson said: “With a lot of these guys, we talk about them having a high ceiling, but I don’t think Dillon’s best delivery is going to get much better.
“It has got everything he needs. His best ball is more than good enough in first class cricket and hopefully beyond.
“It is just about being more consistent and I think we are seeing that with Dillon.
“Even in games when he hasn’t hit his straps as much as he would like, he has still been effective and played a role within that and that has been the most pleasing aspect for me.
“He is managing his game better. That takes time, he is still young, he is still early 20s and he came from a fairly low base in terms of experience playing-wise
“He has got to keep pushing, which he does brilliantly well. His drive and ambition is one of his main assets.
“He has been exposed to a lot of cricket already. He has played a lot of County Championship cricket for us and also the Vitality Blast and he got himself some Hundred games as well.
“He is getting regular exposure to different environments and some different challenges.”