Worcestershire have given Stephen Moore a deadline to decide his future at the club.
The batsman, who is the subject of formal approaches from five counties, has been told to decide his future by the end of this month to allow the county to make contingency plans if necessary.
“He enjoys playing here and he’s told me he doesn’t want to play for another club,” Worcestershire director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, said.
“But you can never be certain, can you? So there is a deadline, it’s about two weeks, because obviously I’ll need to make some approaches [to other counties] if he isn’t going to be here.”
Moore’s stance has already paid off in one sense. Although he started the season on the fringes of the limited-overs team, he will bat in the middle order in this evening’s floodlit game (it begins at 4.40pm) against Nottinghamshire, the start of Worcestershire defence of the Pro-40 title.
“The one frustration Stephen had was that he was not playing one-day cricket. Well, now he is and the good thing is that he’s worked out a game-plan in that form of the game. He had the best strike-rate of all our batsmen in the Twenty20 Cup.
“He’s got a very active agent and he been touted around, hasn’t he? And, of course, agents get paid if the player moves.”
Moore’s elevation to the limited-overs team will not be the only change this evening. While last year’s success was built on the young duo of Steven Davies and Moeen Ali at the top of the order, Vikram Solanki will open with Davies this season.
“Vikram is a proven one-day opener,” Rhodes said, “who has scored two centuries for England in that position, so he’ll go in first.
“Moeen will probably come in down the order to give the innings some late impetus. We’ll have to look at the pitch to be sure, but we’ll probably play three quick bowlers and utilise the Daryl Mitchell’s skills. He’s a very skilful bowler in that form of the game.”
If Moore does decide to leave (Essex, Northants, Derby, Sussex and Glamorgan are the counties who have made formal approaches for his services), Rhodes suggested he will look towards bringing a player in from another county.
As things stand, however, Worcestershire have only made a formal approach for Durham fast bowler Graham Onions. They would also have been interested in signing Nottinghamshire’s Charlie Shreck, but he has recently signed a new deal that will keep him at Trent Bridge.
Worcestershire rest Simon Jones today. He is not suffering from injury but the club are keen to manage his workload to ensure he is available throughout the season. It’s a tactic that has worked better than most could have imagined when he signed.
The club refuted any suggestion that Jones had been rested at the request of the England team management. With the current England bowlers almost exhausted after their exertions at Lord’s, however, Jones’ name is cropping up increasingly frequently as the selectors review their options ahead of the second Test Match that begins on Friday.
As a result of the absence of Jones and an overseas player, Matt Mason comes into the limited-overs side. It’s the first time he will have featured in a List A game since September 2006 and he will form a three-man seam attack with Kabir Ali and Gareth Andrew. Medium-pacer Mitchell and off-spinner Gareth Batty will also be expected to contribute ten overs each in a team that looks somewhat stronger in batting than it does in bowling.
Worcestershire (from): V Solanki (capt), S Davies (wkt), S Moore, B Smith, G Hick, M Ali, D Mitchell, G Batty, G Andrew, K Ali, M Mason.