Steve Rhodes says Ben Cox's call-up for the MCC-Champion County match in Abu Dhabi is testament to the major improvements he has made in his all-round game and impressive work ethic.

Cox and Worcestershire team-mate Joe Clarke are both part of the MCC squad for the traditional curtain-raiser to the new domestic season.

Clarke is also in the Lions party for the five week tour of Sri Lanka starting next week and the North versus South series of 50 over games in the UAE.

Cox will now remain in Abu Dhabi for the MCC match at the completion of the County's 11 day pre-season camp.

Rhodes said: "I'm really pleased for both but for Ben to get an opportunity to show his wares in a game against the Champion County is a great way to start the season for him.

"His all-round game has improved and that is testament to the work he puts in and continues to put in.

"But he has also matured a lot as a person and I think that has shown in his cricket.

"Joe is in that position as an England Lion where you are one step below the England team.

"The North versus South games are the type of games you should get picked for and, for the MCC-Champion County game, if they are looking to put together a decent strong side then they'll look for a few of the Lions players.

"Both Ben and Joe will be in Abu Dhabi a little bit longer. We will be going home after the pre-season camp but Ben will stay and Joe will be out there for the North versus South games."

With Moeen Ali firmly established in the senior England team and a host of players earning England Under-19 call-ups last summer, the recognition of Cox and Clarke is further evidence of the strides being made at New Road.

Rhodes said: "We are delighted. We want to play as many English players as we can and give them opportunites to get into that Lions-England team or any of these other teams.

"The opportunities we have given these guys has helped but it is still down to them to perform and push their way in which is what they have done."