PEARS’ director of cricket Steve Rhodes has returned to New Road after working with the England team in Bangladesh and believes his county side will reap the benefits of his experience.
Rhodes worked alongside the likes of England head coach Trevor Bayliss, Mark Ramprakash and Otis Gibson for the spin-dominated two-Test series which ended in a 1-1 draw.
He was able to pick the brains and observe the England trio in addition plus skipper Alastair Cook, as well as working with the squad’s two wicket-keepers in Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler.
“It served its purpose for me definitely which was to learn as much as I could from the experience of being involved with an international Test team and to observe and work alongside the likes of Trevor Bayliss, who is obviously a very experienced international coach,” said Rhodes.
“But also to see the other coaches like Otis Gibson, who himself has had a taste of international coaching, as well as Mark Rampakash, always a good brain to pick about batting, was excellent.
“Similarly I learned from the professional staff that go a little bit unnoticed which is the various physiotherapists and strength and conditioning coaches and even the club doctor, analyst and masseur. These are all people who have been involved for quite a while and they are very experienced support staff which means you can pick their brains and learn from them.”
Former Pears and England wicketkeeper Rhodes continued his recent association with the national team as a coaching assistant during the tour.
“If anything needed doing, I was there to pick up the pieces,” he said.
“I did some one to one work there with the wicket-keepers, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, but generally it was to assist in all elements of the coaching and making sure it went smoothly.”
The spin-friendly conditions in Bangladesh provided some ‘upside down’ cricket, according to Rhodes.
“It was quite extreme conditions and quite extreme cricket, a bit upside down cricket really with the spinners opening the bowling and your pacemen bowling with the older ball.
“It was different cricket for our batters to face on those wickets and because of that, that made us put a lot of thought in how to play spin and how to bowl in those conditions.
“I learnt a lot through watching, observing, chatting to Cooky, and Joe Root, but also from the sidelines being able to spend time studying and working out potentially ways of coping and scoring runs which is most important, scoring runs.”
The trip also brought a reunion with several former Worcestershire players and/or officials in Phil Neale, Shakib Al Hasan and ex-CEO David Leatherdale, now the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
“It was good to spend a bit of time again with Phil, my old captain at Worcestershire. He does a fantastic job on the operational side of England cricket,” he added.
“Shakib hasn’t changed much. He had his family with him and myself and him had dinner one night which was great.”