Steve Rhodes has stressed the importance of Worcestershire starting games strongly when they return to action in the Specsavers County Championship clash with Sussex at Hove on Monday.

The County have been slow out of the blocks in recent four-day games as their hopes of an instant return to Division One have been ended.

But Director of Cricket Rhodes is hoping a mixture of rest and some intense practice sessions this week will have the desired effect during the finale to the campaign.

He said: "They've had a few days to freshen up, to put their feet up and do nothing, and then we've been back in doing one to one work for two days and then as a squad for two days.

"They are two hard days practice that we were ready for and that can often put your mind right because you've been freshened up and you are starting to get serious.

"I expect this week's preparation will be a good one and let's hope we hit the ground running on Monday.

"One of the areas we desperately want to improve is the way we start our games.

"We were doing it well with the bat, certainly in the early part of the season, and we need to start mirroring that in the last two games whether we bat or bowl first.

"On that first morning, we need to start well."

Rhodes is full of praise for Essex whose win over Worcestershire at Chelmsford last week has taken them to the verge of promotion.

He said: "We always wanted to be in the shake-up going into the last month and in many ways we were.

"I've got to take my hat off to Essex in that last game with us. They could easily have crumbled with the pressure of being top.

"They could also have been a bit blase but they were neither and put in a very professional performance and they showed their quality.

"They often don't play to their quality, and I think they'll admit to that, but this season they have been different and Chris Silverwood has done a good job in trying to get that consistency.

"If you look at the season so far, they are the one team that has been pretty consistent all the way through."