Worcestershire were heavily defeated in yesterday's pre-season warm-up match against Essex at Chelmsford.

Fielding a fairly young, inexperienced side, Worcestershire conceded 317 from their 50 overs before being dismissed for 140 in reply.

"We were hammered," coach Steve Rhodes told The Post. "But that's not the end of the world. The important thing is that the guys realise the level we have to play now.

They'll all have benefited from the match practice and we have another six warm-up games before the season starts in earnest. That's when I want us to be peaking.

"We were nowhere near full strength. Several guys are away with England [Gareth Batty, Kabir Ali and Vikram Solanki], and Stephen Moore had a bit of a niggle.

"Essex played guys like Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Varun Chopra. They looked a strong team. Tim Phillips scored 140 and took wickets with his spinners and we were never in the game.

"Daryl Mitchell batted nicely for us again with 35, but the important thing is that our young guys were exposed to a decent standard of cricket and will have learned from the experience."

* Worcestershire have developed a new on-line ticket booking system.

Supporters can now book tickets for any New Road fixture without having to telephone or visit the club. To register and book visit: www.hogeweb1002.co.uk ..SUPL: