Ross Whiteley has been called into the Worcestershire CCC senior squad for the first time this season – and Head Coach Alex Gidman says the all-rounder “fully deserves the opportunity” after his performances for the Seconds.
Whiteley is part of a 12 strong squad for the home LV=Insurance County Championship encounter with Derbyshire at New Road beginning tomorrow (Thursday).
He has made plenty of runs when captaining the Seconds, including 109 not out versus Lancashire and 92 against Somerset, and also chipped in with valuable wickets.
Gidman said: “We said at the beginning of the season that, for those guys not in the first team, it is about going away, putting a run of performances together and trying to put pressure on the first team players.
“There have been a couple who have done that really well, and especially Ross, competing against those guys in the middle order, he has done everything anyone could have asked for.
“Ross fully deserves the opportunity now to come into the first team and try and repeat what he has been doing in the second team in the first team environment.
“He is an option to bowl a couple of spells if that is what Joe (Leach) feels is what is needed. Being a left armer, he brings a different option and quite often, Ross has the knack of breaking a partnership or getting a wicket when you need it.”
Ed Barnard returns to the squad after being rested for the last game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge after playing in the opening six games.
Gidman said: “Ed had a great start to the season, his batting was brilliant, and his bowling was outstanding, to begin with.
“By his own admittance, he started to fade a bit from Warwickshire through to Durham.
“It is about trying to look after the players first and foremost and giving them the best chance of not picking up serious injuries.
“Although it was a tough decision, it was the right decision for Ed to miss one game and hopefully, he is refreshed now and comes back into it raring to go.”
Gidman and the players are looking forward to playing at home in front of Worcestershire members for the first time in 20 months because of COVID-19.
He said: “For us, although we’ve had a lot of cricket, it feels like a fresh start. The lads have been chatting about having fans back at New Road.
“We’ve missed the familiar and friendly faces. We know they are a knowledgeable supporter base, and they will get behind the team.
“Really looking to seeing them again, albeit from a distance, and we hope they enjoy the cricket, and the lads are looking forward to seeing them too.”
Ben Cox +
Joe Leach *