Relegated, homeless and deep in debt - Worcestershire's squad, one would think, could not have spirits any lower.

It is not the case, however, and, according to stand-in captain, Gareth Batty, the adversity that the club has faced has only served to unite.

Talking before their penultimate LV County Championship Division One match, against Hampshire at Kidderminster starting today, Batty praised the camaraderie of staff on and off the field.

"The way we've stuck together is a measure of the club," he said. "The groundstaff have had a nightmare with the floods, the office staff have had huge problems and we've had the massive upset of championship relegation. Yet the club has always pulled together. The boys were buoyant in training this morning and there really haven't been any big problems all season.

"We're not excusing our form in champion-ship cricket. I genuinely thought we could turn over a few of the top sides but it hasn't worked like that. But, for all the problems in our four-day season, our record in one-day cricket has been really good. We've always had that to draw upon and it has helped make sure our spirits are high."

So what went wrong at the start of the season? "We didn't start well," Batty says. "It's been a problem we've suffered before and I do wonder if it's because we don't have an indoor school. That's not an excuse but it is a difficulty we have to overcome. We started poorly and, with momentum so important in cricket, were soon a bit behind all the other teams.

"We shouldn't have lost a couple of those early games. Steve Harmison made all the difference for Durham but I'm still disappointed by the way we played against Warwickshire. We shouldn't have lost against them.

"Maybe I have to eat my words about the difference in quality between divisions, too. I didn't think there was much difference but the cricket is tougher in the top division. There are no easy sessions, let alone easy games. I think we'll be favourites to go straight back up next season."

Batty's role as captain is made no easier by the absence of Vikram Solanki is on international duty and Kabir Ali who misses the match through injury - the result of carrying the attack all season - and with one eye on the remaining Pro-40 matches.

So who does Batty think will be joining Worcestershire in relegation? "It's probably best I sit on the fence," he says with a smile. "But if you pushed me, I'd say Kent or Warwickshire. Surrey seem to have enough momentum to get out of trouble."