Steve Rhodes praised the performance of Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach and said he has become a fans' favourite after another sterling effort – this time with the bat – against Durham at New Road.

But Worcestershire Director of Cricket Rhodes also rued the change in the weather as Durham established a position of strength on the third day of the LV = County Championship clash at New Road.

The visitors will resume tomorrow on 270-3, requiring just another 48 runs for victory thanks largely to an unbeaten century from skipper Paul Collingwood while Worcestershire will need seven wickets in quickfire fashion – and helpful bowling conditions.

Leach's 76 off just 53 balls looked to have given Worcestershire a fighting chance of securing a second win of the campaign.

But the blazing sunshine during the majority of the Durham second innings meant conditions eased for batting and were in contrast to the overcast conditions evident for the remainder of the game.

Rhodes said: "We need it to be overcast tomorrow and somehow get seven wickets before they get 40 odd runs.

"It has been a tough day. The lads worked really hard today. In the morning when it was overcast and Joe decided to take it to the opposition, he did a great job.

"It got us a score which takes some getting at Worcester but the sun has shone ever since they've been batting.

"People might think it's sour grapes. It's not. That wicket is totally different when the sun is on it and it proved it today.

"The ball has hardly moved off the straight and it's been really hard work and if you think back to us batting last night in gloomy conditions when the ball was nipping around and swinging to what they had to bat in today, then it's a complete contrast.

"That is our own fault. We should have made them follow on. If we had made them follow on, then we would have been bowling in those helpful conditions last night and batting in those helpful for batting conditions today.

"So I know that's hard for people to understand what I am talking about but, if you know your cricket, and certainly watching cricket at New Road, when the sun is out, it's good for batting."

Leach has made significant contributions with bat and ball in all games since returning to the side against Somerset following Gareth Andrew suffering a recurrence of his back problem.

Rhodes said: "Joe played really well today and he has had a really good time of it since his return to the side only a few games ago.

"We are really, really pleased with Joe and the way he puts the effort into everything he does.

"He is becoming a real favourite and that's because our supporters recognise that people who try hard, they like them so that's excellent."

Rhodes also acknowledged the quality of Collingwood's century on his 39th birthday.

He said: "We shouldn't take anything away from Paul Collingwood's century today, a real fighting knock and he played with a lot of discipline and control.

"He has played really well for a 39-year-old ex England player so he is a good player, experienced head and that is what was required for Durham."