Will Rhodes can't wait for the big Vitality Blast derbies with Worcestershire Rapids to arrive this year - and the Bears skipper has no intention of his team relinquishing their hold on the Norman Gifford Trophy.

The Rapids have been a formidable force in the Blast in recent years but Rhodes’s men completed a thrilling double over them in 2020 to first seize the trophy at New Road and then retain it at Edgbaston.

They were two thrilling games, the Bears winning by six wickets in Worcester and then 16 runs in Birmingham, powered on each occasion by the batting brilliance of Sam Hain who hit 134 for once out from 77 balls in the two matches.

Rhodes was delighted to see the Bears secure the bragging rights over their arch-rivals. His only regret, that there were no spectators there to see the games but, all being well, the crowds will be back and the atmosphere bigger than ever when the sides meet this year at New Road on July 9 and Edgbaston on July 16.

“They were two fantastic games last year and it was great to come out on top in both of them,” said the Bears skipper. “It is always a great feeling to lift the Norman Gifford Trophy and we want to hold on to it as long as possible.

“The Rapids are a very strong side in T20, so for us to come out on top against them in two tight games was very pleasing. Hainy batted brilliantly in both and there were some really good contributions from our younger guys. Rob Yates and Dan Mousley showed their quality with the bat and Henry Brookes showed that he is becoming a very accomplished death bowler.

“The only shame was that there no fans because they were terrific games. The one at Edgbaston was a really topsy-turvy affair and, when we won it, the ground would have normally have been absolutely buzzing.

“It will be brilliant to have the crowds back and, after what happened  last year, I’m sure there will be some really big crowds this year. We are always blessed with brilliant support from the Bears fans but I think this year the atmosphere will be better than ever. Bring on the Rapids!”