PEARS skipper Joe Leach vowed his side will relish the opportunity to face ‘some of the best players in the world’ when they tackle the touring Australian team in a three-day game at New Road.
Worcestershire took to the field this morning (Wednesday) against an Australia side buoyed by their 251-run mauling of England at Edgbaston on Monday (August 5), the tourists’ first win at the ground for a staggering 18 years.
Three of the victorious side in Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon and Travis Head have all played for the Pears while batting coach Graeme Hick is a Worcestershire legend with more than 100 first class hundreds for the club.
Smith and Lyon have been rested for the New Road clash, along with David Warner and Pat Cummins, while Hick will return to New Road to oversee the fixture with bowling coach Troy Cooley while head coach Justin Langer takes a break before the second Ashes Test which starts next Wednesday (August 14).
Leach is set to lead Worcestershire with Alex Milton behind the stumps instead of Ben Cox who is being rested along with all-rounder Ed Barnard after a heavy stint of cricket recently, even though both were keen to play.
Opener Daryl Mitchell and all-rounder Wayne Parnell have been ruled out, though paceman Josh Tongue returns to first-team action for the first time since late May after suffering a nerve tissue injury in his upper arm.
“It should be a nice occasion for the club but also for the fans to see the Australians in action,” Leach said.
“It is a fixture steeped in history. It is a fixture we are all aware of going back many, many decades. You hear the stories about Sir Don Bradman coming here and doing well and the 1989 Worcestershire team which came out on top.
“For our guys, it’s a chance they will have to pit themselves against some of the best players in the world. When you see the guys who have missed out on the Edgbaston Test, it does make it possibly an even bigger spectacle.
“We’ve had South Africa, Australia and Pakistan in recent years and they’ve all put out good sides.”
Jack Haynes will make his senior red ball debut for Worcestershire, with the chance to stake a claim to be involved during the remainder of the campaign.
Haynes has been handed an opportunity after impressive form in the Seconds and most recently for England Under-19s in the Tri-Series against India and Bangladesh.
First-team coach Alex Gidman said: “Whatever team Australia put out, I know our guys will be really excited about the opportunity to play against them.
“It will be a great learning experience and hopefully prove a huge amount of motivation for whoever plays to try and reach those levels one day.”