Will Hawkes: Worcestershire aim to make mockery of bookies' predictions

County Focus

Forecasting is a fool's game, particularly when it comes to county cricket. There have already been a number of results this season that defy all sporting logic, chief among them Somerset's humbling defeat by an innings and 382 runs to Warwickshire. The Edgbaston side so nearly went down in 2010 while Marcus Trescothick's men chased the title into the campaign's final hour – and yet it was the latter who suffered the sixth-largest margin of defeat in Championship history on Saturday.

Even in such a competition, however, there are some things that can surely be relied upon. Take Worcestershire, who most observers expect to be relegated come September. Few, indeed, thought they would be promoted last season and their opening-week defeat against Yorkshire – by nine wickets, at Worcester – does not augur well for a successful campaign. Then there's the fact that in recent years they've been promoted twice – and relegated immediately both times.

Understandably, though, they're not quite ready to read the last rites down at New Road. "We're the bookies' favourite to go down but it's up to us to prove them wrong," says Steve Rhodes, the club's coach. "Staying up would be a huge success. It means we can enjoy the year's experiences and take that forward into 2012. That doesn't mean we want to set our sights too low, because you don't want to be in a dogfight at the end of the season."

Today sees the arrival of Warwickshire, the club's local rivals and a side on the up after their victory in Taunton. "It's very obvious who the favourites are," Rhodes says. "But I do enjoy being a team that is seen as amongst the lesser lights because you get the chance to prove people wrong.

"It was a special game for me when I was a player. They're obviously the big brother of the Midlands, with Test status and a huge concrete ground while we're the sleepy little riverside city. I always enjoyed being the underdog." What mustn't be forgotten is just how well last season went for Worcestershire. After flooding problems at New Road in recent seasons, the county was promoted whilst making a handy profit in a year when 15 of the 18 professional clubs made a loss. Key to the club's success were the runs scored by captain Daryl Mitchell, Alexei Kervezee and Moeen Ali, who yesterday agreed a new contract. Rhodes is hoping for more of the same this season.

"The club making a profit was extremely pleasing in terms of the flooding the year before," said Rhodes. "We've got a club that's lasted over a hundred years and we want that to carry on. We've also got some good young players that managed to get us promoted – and if those three batsmen can do the same this year, that would be really good progress."

Rhodes himself is a big part of that history, having come to the club in 1985 from his native Yorkshire. During that time he has seen plenty of changes, none more dramatic than when Ian Botham and Graham Dilley arrived in 1987. It seems remarkable now that two of England's biggest stars should sign for Worcestershire but as Rhodes says, it was pretty unusual then.

"It was always quite difficult [to compete with the bigger clubs]," he says. "What you mustn't forget is that their salaries were aided by some outside help. We'd like to see some of that now as it would help us to get some top players." For now, though, Worcestershire will have to upset the odds with what they have.

Ireland happy after ICC reopens cup debate

Cricket Ireland have welcomed International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar's decision to reopen the debate about the structure of the 2015 World Cup but acknowledge the argument is far from won.

Ireland were perceived as the main victim of the ICC executive board's ruling to reduce the competition from 14 teams to 10, with only full member nations invited to take part. Having made their protests to Pawar, the non-Test playing nations have been buoyed by news that the president has requested the board reconsider their plans.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said. "It is encouraging that the president has reopened this issue but there is still a way to go. This is a positive step but we're cautious about it because it is the same 10 people having the same debate about the same issues."

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn