Will Rhodes believes the glut of injuries that plagued Warwickshire in 2019 has a big silver lining in the advances made by young players who seized their unexpected chance in the first team.
Rhodes and captain Jeetan Patel were the only ever-presents in the championship for the Bears as injuries and England calls constantly pared away at the squad.
The former Yorkshire man responded by forming the best opening pairing in county cricket with Dom Sibley. While Sibley took the headlines for a sensational season which powered him into England’s squad, Rhodes was also impressive, with 770 championship runs at 33.48, as well as 15 wickets at 28.33 apiece, a very useful contribution with the ball.
The up-side of those injuries is that young guys came in and took their opportunity in Division One and now have experience they wouldn’t have had. Yatesy played 12 games at number three and did really well.Will Rhodes
His influence also stretched to helping the younger players who, headed by Rob Yates (570 championship runs), made strong progress ahead of schedule.
“It was an odd season because we had to use so many players,” Rhodes said. “We never had a settled side so it was tough in that respect. It was strange – I hadn’t met Toby Lester or Ben Mike before they came on the mid-season road trip with us, but they did really well and it showed that we have a great team spirit that these lads could come in and contribute the way they did.
“If you look at the guys we had sidelined – Ian Bell, Olly Stone, Ryan Sidebottom, Liam Norwell – four guys who you would have in your team for the first game of the season, so to be without those guys for pretty much all the year was tough. Next year hopefully we will have everybody fit and be at the other end of the table.
“But the up-side of those injuries is that young guys came in and took their opportunity in Division One and now have experience they wouldn’t have had. Yatesy played 12 games at number three and did really well and if you are getting the amount of runs he did in his first year in Div One cricket then you have got a lot to work with.”
With the team so often disrupted by injury down the order, the consistency of Sibley and Rhodes up top was priceless for the Bears.
“We have worked hard at that partnership for a couple of years now,” Rhodes said. “We came good at the end of last year so it was nice to carry that on. We both stayed fit which was great because a lot of other teams have had to change their opening partnership.
“Sibbers has been fantastic and thoroughly deserves his England call-up. Batting at the top of the order in Div One isn’t easy, as shown by only one player, Sibbers, getting over 1,000 runs. I was quite pleased with my form, nearly 800 runs in Division One with a few innings lost to rain, so hopefully I can build on that next year.”