Will Rhodes has challenged the Bears players to "stake their claim" for a place in the team for the first Vitality Blast match of the season on Friday.

Ahead of their Central Group opener against Somerset at Edgbaston on Friday, the Bears first-team squad will take part in an internal practice game tomorrow.

Long-time linchpin Jeetan Patel is back and certain to be the heart of the bowling attack during the Blast campaign – but captain Rhodes says other places in the team are very much there to be seized by those who impress in the warm-up tomorrow.

“There are places up for grabs in all departments of the team and the internal game is a great chance for players to stake their claim,” he said. “The guys who have not been playing red-ball cricket are champing at the bit and those of us who have been playing red-ball will get a chance to and free up a little bit and switch focus.

Will Rhodes

“We haven’t got a lot of time to adjust from red-ball, though that applies to every county, of course. The batters showed some encouraging form in the T20 warm-up against Staffordshire last Sunday. Ed Pollock made an explosive 50 in the way we’ve all become accustomed to seeing, and Adam Hose looked in good nick for a quickfire 30.

“The Blast gives us another chance to challenge for some silverware and we are really excited to get going. We just can’t wait for the first game and really want to make a strong start to the group. It’s great to have Jeets back and raring to go. He is a world class bowler in any format and it would be great to give him a successful campaign to close his brilliant Bears career.”

Rhodes himself heads into the Blast campaign in fine form with the bat after his double century in the Bob Willis Trophy game against Worcestershire at New Road. The skipper was on the pitch for all but 13 balls of the match after batting just over eight hours for an accomplished 207.

“I had made a few 40s so it was nice to go on and get a score,” he said. “Making 40s has some impact on games but as an opening batsman, and also a captain, you want to make match-shaping contribution so it was good to do that.”

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