County cricket: Worcestershire look to youth to replace retired Alan Richardson
Worcestershire coach Steve Rhodes is confident the county can prosper without Alan Richardson and, possibly, Moeen Ali.
Last Updated: 03/04/14 2:40pm
The Pears are preparing for the start of the domestic season in Kidderminster as they begin life without their leading wicket-taker from last year, Alan Richardson.
The veteran seamer claimed over 250 first-class scalps during the last four years but opted to hang up his boots this winter and move into coaching, joining Warwickshire to replace the departed Graeme Welch.
As well as being without Richardson, Worcestershire could see much less of all-rounder Moeen Ali in 2014 after he impressed in limited-overs action with England during the winter.
Rhodes, though, is refusing to be too downhearted about the absence of the key duo, saying: "The door opens and we have some good young players here.
"That is one thing we have got - good, young talented players. Someone will step into the breach.
"If Moeen plays for England - and I really hope he does, it is very good for the club and for him - but it will be a great opportunity for somebody else.
"Alan's loss - well, it is a new career for him. We couldn't do much about that, he wanted to secure something that was more long term. But again, it is an opportunity for some of the young players, and I've been quite pleased with the way some have stepped up in his absence."
Captain Daryl Mitchell echoed Rhodes' sentiments, insisting that it will not be down to just one bowler to fill the sizeable void left by Richardson's absence.
"Obviously we have lost a couple of senior players over the last few years and it is there time now," he said.
"They are not young kids any more - a lot of them have played a lot of fist-class cricket, and List A cricket as well, so it is time for them to step up to the plate and really perform at this level.
"It is very difficult to replace those guys like-for-like. Richo has been absolutely outstanding for us over the past four years, but as a collective we have four or five seamers to come in and hopefully they can dove-tail nicely and pick up those wickets that we will obviously miss."
Worcestershire's plans for 2014 have not been helped by flooding at their New Road home, forcing them to switch to Kidderminster - a venue they know well - to continue their training.
"It's always a bit nasty when you have so much water on the ground and for so long. It is quite devastating. But we are very resilient folk at the ground at New Road," Rhodes said.
"To come to Kidderminster - we've done it before. We had a marquee here last year and this reserve square is very good for batting on, so we are quite happy with the facilities and the way we are looked after.
"It is a little bit convenient, but we make the best of a bad job."