Yorkshire v Leicestershire, Royal London Cup, North Group, Headingley May 16, 2017

Worcestershire reward Rhodes' grow-your-own policy

16

Worcestershire 218 for 5 (Mitchell 67, Kohler-Cadmore 63) beat Derbyshire 238 (Thakor 60, Barnard 3-37) by five wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard

Tom Kohler-Cadmore was in the runs again © Getty Images

Worcestershire have secured a home semi-final in the Royal London Cup with a five-wicket victory over Derbyshire with four overs to spare.

Despite the absence of three leading players - Moeen Ali, John Hastings and Joe Clarke - to international duty and injury, Worcestershire clinched their sixth win of the campaign (they have lost only once) to secure top spot in the North Group.

It gives them a decent chance of a first Lord's final appearance since 2004. They last won a trophy there in 1994, though they also won the 40-over league in 2007.

To make their success all the more satisfying, it was achieved almost entirely through the efforts of their locally developed players. After Ed Barnard and Josh Tongue, aged 21 and 19 respectively, had claimed four wickets between them, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Daryl Mitchell both contributed half-centuries to break the back of the run-chase.

Rhodes said: "It's going to be a nice pay-day for the club and I'm very proud of what the team have done in finishing top of the group. We're a small club and we like to play our young academy players. We don't venture off too much with the non-English players and it's a nice feeling to finish top."

Perhaps most encouraging were the performances of Tongue and Kohler-Cadmore. Tongue, a young man who has been in the Worcestershire set-up for more than half his life, is blessed with height and natural pace - he is already the quickest bowler at the club - and looked to have an exciting future as he hurried batsmen and regularly hit high on the bat. He is certainly a man the England selectors will be watching closely.

Kohler-Cadmore, meanwhile, thumped his first ball for six - he skipped down the wicket and drove Ben Cotton over long-on - and soon repeated the stroke off both Cotton and Hardus Viljoen. Facially he looks remarkably like David Cameron, but the power with which he hit the ball and the presence he is beginning to show at the crease was just a little reminiscent of Graeme Hick. One pair of boundaries off Viljoen - a drive through extra-cover followed by a pull - were especially pleasing.

While he was not able to see his side home - he was brilliantly caught by Daryn Smit who was outstanding standing up to the stumps - and Viljoen precipitated a minor stutter, Ross Whiteley thrashed a straight six against his former club to see Worcestershire home.

While Clarke, who has a hamstring strain, is expected to return well before the semi-final dates (June 16 or 17), it remains to be seen if Hastings or Moeen are available. The final of the ICC Champions Trophy does not take place until June 18 so if either Australia or England are involved there is no chance they will be released. Perhaps Nathan Lyon was included here with one eye to the knock-out stages: players are only eligible if they have played in the group stages.

It was adversity that proved the making of this current Worcestershire side. At the end of 2009, with the club crippled financially and reeling from the departure of several of their best players (notably Steve Davies, Gareth Batty, Kabir Ali and Stephen Moore), the future looked grim.

While some might have turned to the Kolpak market, the Worcestershire director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, resolved to redouble his efforts to uncover local talent. Mining the resources of local private schools - notably Malvern, Shrewsbury, Bromsgrove and Oakham - he also strengthened the relationships with neighbouring non-first-class counties - notably Shropshire - and was rewarded with a crop of outstanding young players that are the envy of many far better resourced clubs.

It is telling Worcestershire have beaten Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire - all Test-hosting clubs - in this campaign. They will fear no-one in the semi-finals.

Keeping hold of such talented young players may prove problematic with Kohler-Cadmore the latest to gain the interest of Warwickshire. But wherever the likes of Clarke and Tonuge and Kohler-Cadmore end up playing, Worcestershire supporters can take pride in the seminal part their club has played in their emergence and satisfaction from the fact that they are contributing admirably to the general strength of the English game. Many clubs would do well to learn from them and they provide a reminder of what can be achieved if talent is identified, encouraged and given opportunity.

Derbyshire might feel a bit unfortunate after this match. Put in on what appeared to be a slightly tacky surface, they struggled to build momentum against an accurate seam attack (there were three maidens in the first 10 overs) in an innings that was interrupted by rain after 10.4 overs.

Shiv Thakor, especially impressive against the short ball, contributed an impressive half-century off 56 balls (all five of his boundaries at that stage were off Tongue) and Alex Hughes struck the spinners for three straight sixes, but from 147 for 3, Derbyshire lost their way against a disciplined attack and, in losing four for 22 just as they would have hoped to accelerate, were unable to set anything more than a par total.

It was not a perfect performance from Worcestershire, either. They dropped five chances in all - some of them fiendishly tough - but they are a side bursting with bowling options, who bat beyond the horizon and are playing with well-deserved confidence. They thoroughly deserve their place in the semi-finals.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Login To Post Comments

  • WolfberriesToo on May 18, 2017, 7:55 GMT

    Brilliant work by Worcs, if only all the other Counties went the homegrown route, when you look at Counties like Hants, Glamorgan and Sussex you can see how they simply are not fit for purpose, Yorkshire should be the County the rest look at as they produce homegrown with real success, Kent do a good job as well with little money at their disposal.

  • GeoffreysMother on May 17, 2017, 17:50 GMT

    Brahms - having taught and taken cricket teams for over 30 years in various state schools I think you may have a skewed view of teachers. I took my teams on top of my day job (which has got increasingly onerous and less appreciated for teachers). PE teachers are expected to develop and assess a range of of motor skills and physical exercise (and despite my passion for the game, cricket doesn't develop these particularly well in a group context) and you may not appreciate these from a distance. Many private schools have specialist former professional cricket coaches, Ian Trott, Jonathan's father, for example is a specialist coach at Denstone College. Don't underestimate the difference - the Liam Livingstone's Tim Bresnan's and Jimmy Anderson's really have made it against the odds.

  • Pelham_Barton on May 17, 2017, 11:37 GMT

    Small point, but I do not think Tom Fell's old school, Oakham in Rutland, can really be described as local to Worcestershire.

  • InsideHedge on May 17, 2017, 10:31 GMT

    @derekcolwell : My comments regarding fans heaping pressure was in general terms, and not directed at Worcs fans. Apologies, I didn't make myself clear, and you're right - I'm not a regular at New Road but I do try to pop down for a couple of games, I would like to go to far more but non-cricketing reasons prevent me.

    @Scritty : Unfair to list Warwickshire in your comment, they don't have a history of poaching young players from Worcs. In fact several Warwicks players have gone the other way - during the 80s & 90s, there were a few that went to New Road towards the end of their career. Even Allan Donald spent a season at New Road. The two clubs have a reasonable relationship atho I wish there was a reciprocal arrangement for members so fans could visit each other's games without having to pay.

  • John-Price on May 17, 2017, 10:13 GMT

    @bearnecessity - One reason that the English game has so many public schoolboys is that these schools have a policy of identifying the very best 11 or 12 year old players and offering them scholarships. The schools then provide them with outstanding facilities and coaching which mean that the boys in question are, in effect, attending a junior cricket academy, free of charge. This, in turn, gives the schools some valuable publicity if the player establishes himself as a professional.

  • bearnecessity on May 17, 2017, 9:34 GMT

    Dezzy. Oh dear. Football is the ultimate classless sport. Eveyone has access to it. It is undeniable that if you want to make it as a professional cricketer in England it helps if you are privately educated (or South African for that matter).I like Worcestershire - it's a terrific club.Maybe one day the club will "mine the resources" of the comps in Worcester and Kidderminster.

  • cricfan44810102 on May 17, 2017, 9:24 GMT

    Congratulations to Worcester for qualifying and more importantly for continuing to select and nurture young talent. Warwickshire have only brought through Ian Bell, and Chris Woakes in the last 25 years all the other youngsters either haven't come through to first team level or have been quickly discarded. They now find themselves in a situation where their chucking two or three into a poor ageing team and hoping for the best. Where's Worcestershire coaching through all the ages which Steve Roades was part of should rightly be proud. Warwickshire's coaches should not be.

  • dezzydezdezer on May 17, 2017, 8:47 GMT

    Bearnecessity asks 'what other sports are still so class based?' - the answer is football, but in the opposite way to what you are probably expecting.

    Professional footballers are among the highest earners in the world and, most earn way more than your average pro cricketer. Most football players however. also come from a STATE SCHOOL background, not private. Yet I don't hear anyone moaning about that class divide (not enough private schoolboys playing pro football)? :)

    Well done to Worcs for the talent they are developing, i don't really care which school they came from.

  • dezzydezdezer on May 17, 2017, 8:19 GMT

    Bearnecessity asks 'what other sports are still so class based?' - the answer is football, but in the opposite way to what you are probably expecting.

    Professional footballers are among the highest earners in the world and, most earn way more than your average pro cricketer. Most football players however. also come from a STATE SCHOOL background, not private. Yet I don't hear anyone moaning about that class divide (not enough private schoolboys playing pro football)? :)

    Well done to Worcs for the talent they are developing, i don't really care which school they came from.

  • brahms on May 17, 2017, 7:10 GMT

    Money is not the only thing that gives private schools better facilities (GEOFFREYSMOTHER). My home overlooks the playing fields of a state school. Several years ago they received a grant (from the lottery ?) that allowed them to install three cricket nets. But they have been little used because teachers are content to toss the kids a football and let them run around after that during games lessons. The best facilities in the world won't, by themselves, produce good cricketers - it needs staff who will promote the game. That is where state schools fail in many respects.

  • No featured comments at the moment.