2018 county cricket previews: Worcestershire
In partnership with the Cricketers’ Who’s Who, here’s Wisden’s profile of Worcestershire for 2018.
HOME GROUND: County Ground, Worcester
ONE-DAY NAME: Worcestershire Rapids
CAPTAIN: Joe Leach
2017 RESULTS: CC2: Winners; RL50: Semi-finalists; T20: 8/9 North Group
HONOURS: Championship: (5) 1964, 1965, 1974, 1988, 1989; Gillette/NatWest/C&G/FP Trophy: 1994; Benson & Hedges Cup: 1991; Pro40/National League/CB40/YB40/RL50: 2007; Sunday League: (3) 1971, 1987, 1988
Last October everything was rosy for Worcestershire. The county had stormed to promotion with a team of homegrown cricketers sprinkled with a puff of overseas magic. Daryl Mitchell responded to losing the captaincy with seven Championship hundreds, his successor Joe Leach produced another outstanding season with the ball and all-rounder Brett D’Oliveira enjoyed his best season yet.
Youth blossomed: Joe Clarke (21) impressed again; fast bowler Josh Tongue (20) took 47 wickets at 25.78 in his first full season; Ed Barnard (22) emerged as a genuine all-rounder. Yet by Christmas one of their young players had been charged with rape and their coach had been sacked. An internal investigation judged Steve Rhodes to have failed to report Alex Hepburn’s initial arrest, thus ending his three-decade association with the club.
But Worcestershire’s on-field resources remain strong. Veteran Aussie seamer Steve Magoffin fills the hole created by John Hastings’ retirement from first-class and 50-over cricket, while his compatriot Travis Head will bolster the batting in all formats. Beware the yo-yo effect; Worcestershire have been promoted and relegated in successive seasons on four occasions since the two-division split.
IN: Steve Magoffin (Sus), Travis Head (Aus), Martin Guptill (NZ, T20), Callum Ferguson (Aus, T20)
Head coach: Kevin Sharp
Worcestershire’s 2nd XI batting coach since 2014, Sharp was chosen ahead of some high-profile candidates to replace Steve Rhodes in December, an appointment which the club said “reflects the desire for continuity”. A Leeds-born former Yorkshire batsman (1976-90), Sharp worked with some of Headingley’s batting prodigies in the 2000s and assisted briefly with England’s Test team last summer. Former Pears paceman Alan Richardson has returned to New Road as bowling coach, while ex-spinner Matt Rawnsley replaces outgoing CEO Tom Scott.
RL50: 7/9 North Group
T20: 7/9 North Group
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