Worcestershire have put the final jigsaw piece in place for next year ' s double assault on promotion by confirming the appointment of Steve Rhodes as their new director of cricket.
Rhodes was initially handed only first-team coaching duties following the abrupt mid-summer departure to Sri Lanka of the previous director of cricket, Tom Moody.
Despite Worcestershire's relegation to Division Two of the National League and their failure to secure a return to the top flight in the County Championship, Rhodes has still won a lot of friends at New Road.
Many factors disrupted his team's season but, rightfully, none of the blame was laid at Rhodes' door and the official confirmation of his step-up to full executive directorship, with the budgetary responsibilities that involves, was rubberstamped at a meeting of the county's 12- man board.
Worcestershire chairman John Elliott, whose own eighth and final year in office was confirmed at the same meeting, is convinced Rhodes will lead his men forward in the right way next summer.
"He's a great bloke," said Elliott. "He impresses everybody with his honesty, he doesn't pull any punches and he's a passionate individual, who's got the Three Pears running through him.
"He inherited a thankless task when he took over, having to deal with someone like Shoaib Akhtar. Players like that are no good to our club. In fact, Shoaib's been no good for any club he's been at.
"You can only wonder whether Tom might have got the best out of him as he was the one that signed him but, really, I don't think anyone could have handled him. He's a superstar and just does what he wants."
Off the field, Rhodes endured his own personal grief in mid-August when he lost his father Billy, after a long battle with illness.
But Rhodes showed his total professionalism by being in Blackpool to begin the day's match preparations for his side's game against Lancashire before driving over to Bradford to attend the funeral.
"Steve's a tough cookie," said Elliott. "He was obviously upset by his father's death but he didn't let it show and he was not helped by the effects of players wanting to discuss their futures in the middle of the season, something which didn't happen in my day, then not liking it when they heard the truth. But Steve won't take any messing about in that dressing room.
"It might be my eighth and final year as chairman, but I've learnt a lot about the importance of team spirit in sport this week.
"Watching that World XI play out in Melbourne and then seeing the Baggies stuff Arsenal and all their foreigners at the weekend has made me realise there's nothing there if there's no pride in what you're playing for.
"It's all about team spirit and getting the dressing room right and when you get a bloke like Shoaib Akhtar in there, it can cause mayhem.
"But there's one thing I know. 'Bumpy' has got the players on his side at New Road and, with our two Aussies Nathan Bracken and Phil Jaques on board next season, I fancy us to put up a hell of a fight."
Rhodes, 41, retired from the first-class game at the end of the 2004 season following 20 years' service at New Road.
Having had his new improved status confirmed, along with the reappointment of Vikram Solanki as county captain for 2006, he is looking only to the future.
"I feel proud to continue my association with Worcestershire as director of cricket," said Rhodes. " I relish the challenges we have in store for us. I am full of optimism, not only next year but for many years to come."