County Championship round-up August 26, 2009

Rhodes answers angry members

George Dobell at New Road

Nottinghamshire 9 for 1 trail Worcestershire 334 (Andrew 92*, Adams 4-81) by 325 runs
Scorecard

Steve Rhodes declared himself "very much encouraged" as Worcestershire continued to have the best of their championship game against Nottinghamshire. Although fewer than 13 overs were possible on the second day, Worcestershire again belied the chasm between the sides in the Division One table by producing a performance that offered some hope of better times ahead.

Though Gareth Andrew was stranded tantalisingly short of a maiden century, Worcestershire can be more than content with their first innings score on such a bowler-friendly wicket, while they also struck early to dismiss Scott Newman when Nottinghamshire began their reply.

It was just the sort of performance that the director of cricket, Rhodes, requested when he spoke to the team before play.

Rhodes was still reeling from a confrontation with angry supporters at a packed members' forum the previous night. Asked to resign by a small number of supporters, Rhodes described the evening as "his worst experience as a coach" but promised not only not to resign, but to lead the club towards better times.

"It took me by surprise," Rhodes admitted. "I felt like it was biblical times and I was about to be stoned at any moment. It wasn't a nice feeling. I told the players that the captain and I got a real grilling last night. But I told them they'd still see us bouncing around and that I wanted them to be the same.

"This is usually a very friendly club that punches above its weight. But the expectation of some members is very high. We're not it a big club like Surrey or Warwickshire; we'll still win trophies, but we can't expect to see ourselves as one of the big four

"There is a divide between the big clubs and the rest and its getting bigger. Cricket is going the way of football where some counties are becoming like nursery clubs. That's frustrating. The last thing we want to do is lose players, but if you can't afford to keep them, what can you do? The answer is, we have to scout and develop young talent."

Rhodes has certainly been busy 'scouting' over recent days. Since the news of Steve Davies' departure, he has been contacted by the representatives of 16 prospective first team wicket-keepers, with Surrey's Jon Batty and Gloucestershire's Steve Adshead thought to be among them.

It will not just be a good keeper that Worcestershire require, however. They'll need one capable of batting in the top six, too, as they can ill afford to add to their already long tail.

Though Richard Jones helped Andrew to within sight of his century, Jones' departure hastened a swift end to the innings. After Jones left one that crashed into his off stump, the hapless Arif was punished for flicking across the line and Jack Shantry's maiden knock in first-class cricket ended when he lunged pad first at another straight one.

Newman soon fell in reply. In two minds whether to play at one that bounced more than he expected outside off stump, he succeeded only in guiding a catch to the slip cordon. On such a pitch, a result is still possible despite the loss of much of the day to poor weather.

Meanwhile Gareth Batty, the latest player to choose to leave Worcestershire, explained why he felt he needed to leave the club. The 31-year-old off-spinner, who represented England in limited-overs cricket as recently as March, is expected to announce that he will be joining his former team-mate, Steve Davies, at Surrey imminently.

"I truly believe that the best years of my career should be ahead of me," Batty said. "If they're not, if things aren't better in two or three years, then I'll walk away from the game. I need to be able to look in the mirror at the end of my career and know that I've done the best I could; that I've got the best out of myself.

"There have been times of late when I've woken up, looked in the mirror and thought 'you're kidding yourself here, mate.' I've not really been living every moment; I've been meandering through things. There have been times when I've felt a spare part at Worcester. I felt a need to challenge myself more and test myself in conditions where I might be a match-winner. I've been working on a 'doosra' for a while and, sooner or later, I want to use it more.

"Leaving is nothing to do with money. I've not thought about a benefit season or anything like that. Worcestershire will always be dear to my heart, but there are some aspects of the club I've found difficult to come to terms with and I decided, over the last year or so, that I needed a new start."