WORCESTERSHIRE CCC Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes has returned to New Road in upbeat mood following a winter away with the England Lions squad.
Rhodes has been an ever-present alongside head coach Andy Flower through the T20 and 50-over series against Pakistan A, as well as the Performance Programme training camp that preceded them last November, and the pair have forged a close working relationship.
The opportunity to work with the former England head coach as well as high-profile consultants Daniel Vettori and Gary Kirsten has left Rhodes ‘fizzing with ideas’ ahead of the new campaign.
“We’re definitely on the right track with what we do at Worcester but there’s a few things I can take back,” he said.
“Picking the brains of Dan Vettori and Gary Kirsten has been excellent but the main brain has been Andy Flower – a great guy to work with who knows the game inside out and is very passionate.
“It tears him inside out when things aren’t going well, but that’s only an indication of how much he wants to win,” he added.
Rhodes shared Flower’s pain when the Lions were unable to arrest the momentum of a Pakistan A comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the 50-over series, pointing to the failure to capitalise on a winning position in match three as the key turning point.
The respected director of cricket was joined in a winter abroad by his Worcestershire charges duo Joe Clarke and Ross Whiteley.
“They both feel they’ve learned a hell of a lot over the two tours, with the training camp as well,” Rhodes said.
“They will be better players for this experience. No careers go in a straight line all the time, you always have peaks and troughs and hurdles to get over and sometimes you trip up.
“I was very proud of them when they put on that stand (of 66 at the end of the innings), but when I’m here as an assistant coach of England Lions it’s about all the players
“So watching Vincey (James Vince) play so well, watching Dawid Malan score hundreds has been excellent, some of the bowling and fielding too.
“To work with different players has been one of the great things about the trip for me, as well as with coaches like Andy and Chris Taylor on the fielding side after Christmas.
“I’ve got some terrific young guys at Worcester who I love working with day in, day out – and some coaches, too.
“But it’s also quite nice and refreshing because it stretches you as a coach to work with different people, having to get used to different personalities,” he added.
Pre-season preparations will step up in February for the Pears squad before the team make the trip to Abu Dhabi on March 4 for their pre-season tour.