Worcestershire have made two changes to their squad for the Specsavers County Championship encounter with Lancashire at Blackfinch New Road which begins tomorrow (Monday).
Batsman Josh Dell is recalled to open the innings alongside Daryl Mitchell and fit again all-rounder Wayne Parnell comes back into the side after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Dell scored 61 on his first class debut for the County in the recent home Championship fixture against Durham.
He also carried his bat for a superb century in a Second Eleven Championship match against Lancashire at Northern CC earlier in the season.
Dell ended unbeaten on 131 out of 251 all out.
Parnell has made an impressive start to the campaign in the Royal London One-Day Cup and had scored 63 and taken five wickets in the first innings of the away Championship meeting with Lancashire two and a half weeks ago.
He suffered a hamstring injury which prevented him from bowling in the second innings and then missed the following game against Middlesex but is now fully fit.
Tom Fell and George Rhodes, who have filled the opener and number three roles respectively in recent matches, drop out of the 12 strong squad.
First Team Coach Alex Gidman confirmed the duo would play for the Seconds who will be in action against Northamptonshire next week.
Gidman said: “I believe in continuity to give ourselves the best chance of performing consistently.
“These last three games (against Durham, Lancashire and Middlesex) were always treated as a block and we feel we need to rebalance the side slightly.
“We need some more options with the ball obviously without a front-line spinner due to Ben’s injury.
“We also haven’t quite got that formula right at the top of the order and feel this is the right way to proceed in the near future.
“Josh played well on his debut. It was a very tough call not playing him after that but he was competing against our overseas player (Callum Ferguson) at that moment in time and, obviously with the changes we’ve made, he still deserves his place in the team.
“He has done nothing wrong since and it is a decision we’ve made. He was the next batsman in line to come into the side to see if we can get that right formula at the top of the order.”
Parnell is back in the fold after thankfully sustaining only a minor hamstring tear at Emirates Old Trafford.
Gidman said: “We encourage the players to be really honest about injuries. We would rather guys brought up injuries earlier so we can try and keep the time they are out to a minimum as opposed to them feeling they have to try and be brave and play through certain injuries.
“We want guys on the pitch and sometimes it is about being honest, accepting an injury and having a week off as opposed to a month or six weeks away.
“It is credit to Ben (Davies) and Ross (Dewar) that they have got Wayne back in order to be fit and firing for this week and hopefully thereafter.”
Worcestershire have won two and lost two of their opening four games in the Championship.
Gidman said: “It’s been challenging. We’ve played what I would call four strong teams and two very strong teams and it has been obvious with the results that we haven’t quite had enough in those games to beat either Lancashire or Middlesex.
“I think our two performances against Leicestershire and Durham were very, very good. We played some good cricket in the other two games as well but obviously not quite enough and not over a long enough period of time.
“The players are aware of it, we are aware of it. We’ve spoken about things and we know the minor tweaks we need to try and make whoever we are playing against, whether that’s Lancashire next, Sussex the week after or even after that.
“It was a poor performance against Middlesex. The Lancashire game was a tough, tough game of cricket and we were genuinely unlucky in that game I believe.
“On the whole we’ve played a lot of good cricket and in some games we haven’t executed our skills for long enough.”
Ben Cox (w)
Joe Leach ©
*England paceman James Anderson returns to the Lancashire squad for tomorrow’s meeting with Richard Gleeson rested.
Jake Lehmann drops out of the squad with Alex Davies expected to make his return to the side.
The Lancashire wicket keeper hit a century for the Second XI last week against Durham.
Dane Vilas ©