By Josh Richards
HAVING gained the Division Two title final summer season to attain promotion, Worcestershire needs to be using the crest of a wave when the brand new season kicks off subsequent week.
In actuality, they’re treading water, with three quarters of their New Road house sodden because of heavy pre-April showers and it’s all change within the backroom following director of cricket Steve Rhodes’ untidy sacking in December.
Yet skipper Joe Leach insists they will voyage all the way down to Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl for his or her first Division One match since 2015 buoyant.
“There’s been speed bumps in the road, but this group is mature enough to deal with them and throw ourselves into our cricket,” mentioned the 27-year-old.
“We had a good pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi and acquired again a couple of weeks in the past. It’s the fifth 12 months in a row that we’ve been away in pre-season and its invaluable.
“To get ten strong days of uninterrupted out of doors cricket in has been so essential, as a result of if we had stayed right here we might have been actually undercooked.
“When we were in Abu Dhabi it certainly felt like the momentum from last season was still there. The group has largely stayed the same, but we’ve added some real quality.”
That ‘real quality’ is 38-year-old Australian bowler Steve Magoffin, again on the county the place he spent the 2008 marketing campaign and eligible to play throughout all codecs.
The dependable bowler has come from Sussex, the place he has led the assault for the final 5 years, and he will be particularly harmful within the early weeks of the season on spring’s inexperienced pitches.
Standing 6ft 4in, Magoffin is making his presence recognized off the pitch for brand spanking new coach Kevin Sharp’s facet and Leach can not wait to see him on it.
“Steve is a gem of a signing,” added Leach.
“We’ve already seen the advantages of what he can deliver to us off the sector, simply having somebody there who has been within the recreation for so long as he has.
“He has been great with the younger bowlers and now we can’t wait to get him out on the pitch and watch him go. His record speaks for itself.”
As nicely as successful Division Two final time period, Worcestershire reached the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-finals after storming to the highest of their group.
Eventually their run was ended by Surrey in a one-sided semi-final, with Jason Roy plundering 92 and Gareth Barry taking 5-40.
The solely blot on their copy ebook got here within the T20 Blast, the place the Rapids suffered ten defeats from 14 North Division video games.
Seeking to deal with that, New Zealand opener Martin Guptill – fifth within the ICC T20 batsman rankings – will be a part of up for his or her first eight Blast matches, with Callum Ferguson, of Australia, changing him for the ultimate six.
And Leach desires his crew to shine within the white-ball recreation, the place they’re focusing on the knock-out levels in each competitions.
“There was such a buzz about the place when we knew Martin Guptill would be coming in,” mentioned the all-rounder.
“It’s an thrilling trying high order. Travis Head, Joe Clarke, Martin Guptill, possibly Mooen Ali, relying on his England commitments, that’s scary and reveals the ambition we’ve acquired.
“Our white-ball facet needs to be trying in direction of successful one of many trophies. We had been so sturdy within the One-Day Cup group stage final season.
“In terms of the county season, it’s more about what I don’t want us to achieve, which is not just to avoid relegation. We are better than that. I think we can take heart from what Essex did last season.”