Will Rhodes wants his team to play "with freedom, not tension" as he looks ahead to his first season as Warwickshire captain.
Rhodes, who will turn 25 in early March, has become one of the Bears’ youngest ever club skippers after succeeding Jeetan Patel in the role. But the responsibility and challenges of the job do not faze him at all.
When appointing Rhodes as captain, Warwickshire sport director Paul Farbrace hailed the player’s “excellent leadership qualities.” Those qualities will be channelled into sustaining an environment where players free up and enjoy their cricket.
For me as captain it’s a very exciting time. The first few weeks after I was appointed the captain were mainly fitness-based but now we are at the stage where we are covering skills and working on batting and bowling and game scenarios. We all can’t wait for the new season to come.Will Rhodes
“I want to be a relaxed captain and be part of an environment where players can go out on to the field and play with freedom,” Rhodes said. “There is always pressure on you to perform as a professional cricketer so the more you can do to keep any additional pressure off the players the better.
“Last season we played some really good cricket when the guys were at their most relaxed and showed what they are capable of. That’s what I want them to do – play with freedom, not tension.”
Rhodes has been in Pakistan on tour with the MCC team but is now back with the Bears ahead of the pre-season camp at La Manga Club, with Sporta Group, next month. As preparations step up towards the 2020 season, he detects a real appetite among the players to start shedding the shackles of practice and play some matches in Spain.
“We can’t wait to get out to La Manga Club and play some games and then get stuck into the new season,” he said.
“For me as captain it’s a very exciting time. The first few weeks after I was appointed the captain were mainly fitness-based but now we are at the stage where we are covering skills and working on batting and bowling and game scenarios. We all can’t wait for the new season to come.”
For now, Rhodes, along with Bears team-mates Michael Burgess and Olly Hannon-Halby is getting in some additional match practice on MCC’s tour to Pakistan, a visit designed to advance the reintegration of Pakistan as a home venue in world cricket.
“Pakistan is a great cricketing country with so much passion for the sport,” he said. “They have looked after us brilliantly, everybody is really friendly, and it is good to come out here.”