Worcestershire Season Preview 2024

Worcestershire Season Preview 2024

Worcestershire will be well pleased with their efforts last summer, having gained promotion back into Division One of the Championship. However, as others who have made that trip have found, the hard work now starts to stay there. That will be down in no small part to the efforts of Ashley Giles, who was appointed Chief Executive last July.

Unfortunately he was not in place soon enough to be able to do anything about another exodus of players, with the loss of Josh Tongue, Jack Haynes, Dillon Pennington, Pat Brown and Ben Cox. This is too regular an occurrence and hopefully Giles alongside head coach, Alan Richardson can provide the stability needed to keep hold of players.

It will be particularly disappointing to have lost Tongue, who came through their age-group system and made his Test debut last summer. Due to injury and his Test call-up, he did not play a major part in the promotion effort, but alongside Pennington and Brown, they have lost a significant chunk of their pace options. Ben Allison was drafted in on loan at the end of the season and they have now made three pace bowling signings.

All rounders Ethan Brookes and Tom Taylor have moved from Warwickshire and Northamptonshire respectively, while they have picked up a second South Asian Cricket Academy player, Yadvinder Singh. The 28-year-old Indian-born seamer took 13 wickets in four second XI matches for Warwickshire last season, having previously played second team cricket for Worcestershire.

22-year-old Brookes has been restricted to playing just One-Day cup games for Warwickshire in recent years, the last of his three Championship matches being in 2021. Taylor brings more experience, having played 64 first class matches for Derbyshire, Leicestershire and most recently Northamptonshire. He will be hoping for a better return than in 2023, but has taken 162 first-class wickets in 60 matches, averaging 31.81.

The attack will also be boosted by Kiwi all-rounder Nathan Smith, who has signed to play in all three formats throughout the season. The 25-year old played for New Zealand A against India back in 2020 and plays his domestic cricket for Wellington. Worcestershire could not have chosen a better time to recruit him, as he has just picked up New Zealand’s men’s Domestic Player of the Year award. He was the second highest wicket-taker in their four-day competition with 28 scalps from just nine innings at an average of 15.92 and then took the Firebirds to the Super Smash title with career-best T20 figures of 4-5.

Slow left armer, Josh Baker is the first choice spin option, but he managed just four Championship wickets last season. He was more successful in the One-Day cup with 17, while Brett D’Oliveira chipped in with three wickets in the Championship, with his leg spin. The lack of a tested red ball spinner must be a concern to Giles, but as is well documented, they are few and far between in the county game.

Jake Libby led the batting with over 1000 Championship runs, but Worcestershire ended the summer with the fewest batting bonus points of any of the second Division teams. Gareth Roderick was the next highest run scorer with 696 at 30.26, while D’Oliveira made 661 at 36.72. Worcestershire’s success was based on being able to score enough runs at the right time and having the bowlers to finish the job. The batting has been strengthened with the move of Rob Jones from Lancashire. He came on loan for the One-Day cup last summer with 1076 List A runs at 43.04 and they will be hoping he can improve on his first class average of 28.9.

Worcestershire also enjoyed some success in the white ball competitions, reaching the quarter finals of both. Departing Brown was their top wicket-taker in the Blast, backed up by Pakistan leg-spinner Usama Mir, who has been signed again for this year’s competition. He is also capable of chipping in with some lower order hitting.

Big hitting will also be providedby another new signing, Josh Cobb. He joins Taylor in making the move over from Northamptonshire and has been signed on a white-ball deal. He has a built a reputation with the bat in T20 cricket, that sees him ply his trade around the world. He also bowls useful off spin and will certainly improve the Pears’ chances in the Blast. He was openly upset when replaced by David Willey as the Steelbacks’ T20 captain before last year’s competition and it clearly affected his on field performances, scoring just 76 runs from eight games, before being dropped.

Key player

Given the player turn around that has become common place at New Road a solid all round contribution from Matthew Waite will go a long way to steadying things. 2023 was Waite’s first full season at New Road, having appeared on loan in 2022, moving from Yorkshire. Last season was cut short by a groin injury, from which he has now recovered, but in the eleven games he played he scored 565 runs at 35.31 and took 26 wickets at 31.34. The hope will be he stays fit this summer.

One to watch

23-year-old left arm seamer Ben Gibbon was working on a building site while turning out for Cheshire when he was signed by Worcestershire at the end of the 2021 season. Since then he has been in and out of the first team, having taken 40 wickets at 39.35 in 15 first class matches. It will be hoped he can step up and fill one of the gaps left following the departures.

Overseas signings: Usama Mir (Pakistan, for T20), Nathan Smith (New Zealand)

Ins: Rob Jones (Lancashire), Ethan Brookes (Warwickshire), Tom Taylor (Northamptonshire), Yadvinder Singh (South Asian Cricket Academy), Josh Cobb (Northamptonshire)

Outs: Dillon Pennington (Nottinghamshire), Josh Tongue (Nottinghamshire), Jack Haynes (Nottinghamshire), Pat Brown (Derbyshire), Ben Cox (Leicestershire), Mitchell Stanley (Lancashire), Taylor Cornall (released)

How will they fare: Worcestershire have a reputation of developing talented players and then unfortunately losing them. If they are to maintain their place at the top table they are going to need to repeat the development process, as well as see their established players perform. Their batting will need to improve if they are to avoid defeats against the Division One attacks and a relegation battle looks likely. It may be that the white ball competitions will bring some solace.

Opening fixture: CC vs Warwickshire on April 5 at Edgbaston


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