At the end of last season, following relegation from the top tier of the County Championship, Worcestershire fans may have been feeling somewhat pessimistic about the future. However, with the business end of the season approaching, Worcester find themselves just seven points off the top of Division Two, and in contention to make the knock out phase of the Royal London Cup.
And what will excite Worcester fans the most is the exciting crop of young talent that has come to the fore this season, and will no doubt leave them in good stead for years to come.
The most exciting prospect they have is middle order batsman Joe Clarke. Clarke has drawn comparisons to Kevin Pietersen and has impressed in all forms of the game this summer. He averages 43 in first class cricket and has notched up three tons in the competition this year. Clarke has been equally impressive in the T20 Blast, where his innovative style has impressed. If Clarke can continue to develop in the manner he has done this season, then international recognition may not be far away.
England’s lack of spinners has been well documented, but in Brett D’Oliveira Worcester have a player who could challenge his teammate Moeen Ali for a spot in the England side in the future. D’Oliveria is very much an all-rounder, averaging nearly 50 in first class cricket having scored two centuries. However, his bowling will no doubt also be of interest to the England selectors, and this season he has taken wickets in both the longer form of the game and in the Blast.
A third player to keep an eye out for is Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who shot to prominence after scoring 127 for Worcester in a T20 Blast match, the highest ever score in the competition by a Worcester player. While the 21-year-old is far from the finished article, he will no doubt be a player Worcester are keen to nurture as he continues to develop in the years to come.
If Worcester can develop these young players, and also get the best out of other youngsters at the club such as George Rhodes and Tom Fell, who has recently returned to the side after being diagnosed with cancer last year, then the future should be bright and the club will be hoping to push on for trophies.
In recent years Worcestershire have been something of a yo-yo club, getting promoted and then being relegated the following season. However, if Worcester can secure a return to the top flight this year, they will be confident their young talent will not only be good enough to see them survive against the big boys, but also prosper.