Head Coach Alan Richardson says a mixture of calmness and bravery have been key attributes in Worcestershire Rapids success in the Metro Bank One Day Cup as they prepare for Sunday’s quarter-final with Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl (11am start).
Richardson is looking for a similar approach as the Rapids attempt to reach the last four and book a semi-final meeting with Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
He has announced a 14 strong squad with Jake Libby returning to skipper the side after being rested for Friday’s T20 match with New Zealand at New Road.
The Rapids have produced a series of outstanding performances which Richardson wants them to try and repeat in what is their second quarter-final of the campaign.
He said: “The boys have been absolutely outstanding throughout the season. They have worked incredibly hard together. They’ve looked after each other, pulled in the same direction, and we’ve managed to put in some good performances.
“Over the last couple of years, our 50 over performances haven’t quite been what we would have hoped. This year we have seen a marked improvement and it’s been exciting to watch them play.
“We went into these last three games (against Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Sussex) knowing we probably had to win two of them and all I asked for from the lads was to try and put in three performances to win three games.
“We did more than that really, and it’s something they should be really proud of. It’s been a tough schedule, eight games in 19 days, nine in 20 if you include the Shropshire game.
“It’s been building for a little while. The T20 went really well to get through the qualifying stages and it’s been a reflection again in the 50 over competition.”
Richardson added: “Try and match those performances against Hampshire? That’s it. The last couple of games have effectively been knockout games for us so it makes no difference really.
“We just continue that mindset of how the boys have gone about it. They’ve been really calm and measured in approach but shown some real bravery as well in how they gone and played their cricket.
“I don’t think that changes at all going into this game. Hampshire have played really good cricket as well and that’s the whole point of getting through these qualifying matches.
“You’ve got two sides who are in a reasonable amount of form and let’s see who comes out on top.
“If we just concentrate on our own game, and try and put in as good a performance as we can, that’s all we can ask.
“We go in with high hopes. We really want to get to a final and have an opportunity to win a trophy.”
Kashif Ali will be looking to continue the form which saw him vital contributions with the bat against Derbyshire and Sussex.
Richardson said: “He practices really well, he is always continually looking to get better, and really work on his strengths.
“One of those is he hits the ball incredibly cleanly. He backs himself, takes some smart options, is very measured in how he goes about things.
“Certainly, in the last two innings against Derbyshire and Sussex, we ask for match winners, we ask for all the guys to think about how they are going to win a match for us.
“They will do that in lots of different ways but Kash put in a couple of really good performances and for him to go and show what he can do will only fill him with confidence.
“It also gives confidence to the boys as well. They get that, they feed off that, off each other, and so they should. It is nice to have that at the moment within the team.”
Richardson is looking for the Rapids to learn from their recent experiences at the Ageas Bowl.
He said: “We’ve not won any of the last three there, the T20 and two 50 overs, so a real good opportunity for us to try and put that right.
“We will get more of an idea of what to expect as we go along in terms of the type of surface and the type of cricket Hampshire play in white ball cricket.
“What Jake continually asks is for the boys to keep communicating and being prepared to adapt their game to what is in front of us so that will be exactly the same on Sunday.”
Rapids all-rounder Matthew Waite has been ruled out with a groin injury during the win over Sussex last Sunday at New Road.
Richardson said: “It is very early days. The initial signs are he will miss a little bit of cricket for us. We don’t know how much yet.
“Matthew has played a huge part in the season so far, not only with his performances on the pitch but also his influence in and around the changing room.
“Disappointing for him but again it will be an opportunity for someone to come in and hopefully make an impact.
“It is important for us to try and keep that balance of having five front-line bowlers and that has worked really well for us so far so I can’t see the balance of the side changing.”
Jake Libby ©
Ben Cox (w)
Logan van Beek