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Rhodes on enforced leave after Hepburn rape charge

Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire director of cricket Getty Images

Worcestershire have been thrown into disarray after a player was accused of rape and the director of cricket put on leave by his county because he did not properly bring it to their attention.

Alex Hepburn, the 21-year-old allrounder, was charged with two counts of rape on November 9 while Steve Rhodes, the club's long-serving director of cricket, has been put on leave by Worcestershire and England after failing to report the player's arrest in a timely fashion.

Rhodes, who had been appointed to coach the England U19 team at the World Cup in the new year, has also been relieved of those duties and replaced by Gloucestershire's Richard Dawson.

It is alleged that, when Hepburn was first arrested on April 1, he approached Rhodes for assistance. Rhodes agreed not to pass on details of the allegation to the club's board and, while the investigation continued, Hepburn was selected for the first team (in T20 cricket) and signed a one-year contract extension with the club.

News that he had subsequently been charged resulted in the matter coming to the attention of the club and the ECB. It is understood they were told on November 9 and 10.

Hepburn is suspended on full pay. He will appear in court on December 7. Rhodes is currently the subject of an internal disciplinary hearing, run by independent board members, which is expected to conclude within the first week of December. There is every chance is career at the club - extending back to 1985, is over.

A West Mercia police statement said: "A man has been charged in connection with a rape investigation in Worcester. Alex Hepburn, aged 21 of Diglis, Worcester, was charged on 9 November with two counts of rape of a woman 16 years or older.

"The charge is in connection with an investigation into the rape of a woman on 1 April 2017. Hepburn will appear at Worcester Magistrates Court on 7 December 2017."

Rhodes and the Worcestershire chief executive, Tom Scott, fell out earlier this year over the handling of Tom Kohler-Cadmore's move to Yorkshire.

Partially as a result and partially because the structure of the club prevented him from effectively managing Rhodes, Scott tendered his resignation and leaves the club at the end of the year.

"The ECB can confirm Steve Rhodes will not be travelling to South Africa as head coach to the Young Lions on secondment from Worcestershire," an ECB spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "Richard Dawson, the Gloucestershire head coach, will take on the role of head coach to the Young Lions squad in South Africa."

Hepburn moved to England from Australia in 2013. Having played for Western Australia U17, he represented Worcestershire twice in List A cricket in 2015 and made it into their T20 side in 2017.