Head coach Kevin Sharp believes Ross Whiteley can make an impact with the ball – and help ease the work-load of Worcestershire’s front-line attack – after his return to bowling during the pre-season programme.
Left armer Whiteley has seldom turned his arm over in recent seasons despite being earmarked as an ‘all-rounder’ on his move to Blackfinch New Road from Derbyshire nearly five years ago.
But Whiteley has indicated a desire to play more of a role in that department – and Sharp has always felt he had potential which can be untapped in that area of his game.
Someone capable of bowling 10-15 overs per day in the ‘all-rounder’ berth can make a big difference to what is required from Joe Leach, Steve Magoffin, Josh Tongue, Ed Barnard and Co during a demanding six month season.
Sharp said: “I always felt there was potential there in terms of Ross’s bowling and, as a left armer, he does swing the ball.
“He came to the club as an all-rounder and his bowling hasn’t quite worked out – but to me there is still an all-rounder there.
“I was particularly keen to get Ross bowling again and Alan (Richardson) – Head Bowling Coach – is all over that.
“Ross is up for it as well. He is really keen to get back into the swing of this and really challenge as an all-rounder in all forms.
“He has already been doing some bowling at Malvern College during pre-season training. He has been really working very hard – as the all-rounders have to.
“Genuine all-rounders, who bat and bowl, have got to manage their programme really well, probably get there (to training) a bit earlier than others because they’ve got both skills to really work at.”
Sharp added: “It is another dimension for us. We’ve got Shants (Jack Shantry) who tends to do a lot with the ball the other way, which is unusual, but then Ross is more of an inswing bowler.
“He pushes one across (the batsman) and it is another dimension. Left armers, they are a rarity.
“Giving him the opportunity to bowl in pre-season, and get some bowling out on grass, is going to be hopefully priceless towards his development.
“We won’t see him until the end of March because of his Pakistan Super League commitments but we will get him out there practicing and bowling and fingers crossed, we will see him out there in matchplay.”
In terms of Whiteley helping to ease the workload of the out and out bowlers, Sharp said: “It is a long summer. These lads work very hard and there is maybe times when you might have to consider giving a break to a bowler for a game or two just to re-energise them.
“But if we’ve got strength in depth, and you can share it around (each day) a little bit more, with Ross able to bowl maybe 10-15 overs, that only has to be a benefit.”