STEVE Rhodes’ big game hunters will be looking to bag a prize scalp today when they bid to take down the Lions (2.30pm).
The Worcestershire director of cricket leads his history-chasing Rapids to the Kia Oval to take on Surrey Lions in a NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final, dreaming of securing a first-ever finals day appearance.
Hosts Surrey will be overwhelming favourites as they name a side including stellar names such as Kevin Pietersen and Tillakaratne Dilshan, but Rhodes insists his side will relish the underdog tag.
However, the New Road chief has been irked by the ECB’s decision not to release any of the England Test squad back to their counties for T20 quarter-final duty, which means the Rapids will be without star man Moeen Ali.
Rhodes said: “Personally I’m a little bit disappointed that Moeen will not be with us and mainly because, to a club like Worcestershire, he is such a key player.
“Some of the other England players are with the big counties who have got several good players. We’ve got good players but we haven’t got many absolute gems like Moeen.
“I would have loved for him to be helping us qualify. It means a lot to Worcestershire to try to get there.
“I’m pretty sure he would have had rest time even though it is only three hours cricket. But rules are rules and coaches are coaches and I thoroughly understand Peter Moores’ situation.
“He’s got a right and he wants his team fresh and raring to go for the next Test. Who can blame him for that? I rang up Pete, but I had no joy. At the end of the day, this guy is helping to win Tests for England and we also want the best for Moeen.
“But a T20 quarter-final, my own view is they could have let him play but I understand Peter having a different view because he is very much at the sharp end of it coaching England.”
Despite Moeen’s absence, Worcestershire have been boosted by receiving clearance from New Zealand Cricket to play batsman Colin Munro, who is part of his country’s ‘A’ team tour of this country.
He warmed up for the Lions clash by scoring 150 off 100 balls against Northants on Thursday and is the Rapids second highest scorer in T20 Blast cricket this season.
Rhodes added: “Colin will be back playing for us. New Zealand have been very kind and he’s in good form. That’s excellent news.”
Rhodes has chosen the 11 players in action during last Friday’s T20 Blast win over Derbyshire Falcons at New Road, plus all-rounder Gareth Andrew, who has been skippering the Second XI while continuing his rehabilitation from a back problem, and paceman Charlie Morris.
Worcestershire (from): Mitchell, Oliver, Kohler-Cadmore, Munro, Whiteley, Cox, Leach, D’Oliveira, Choudhry, Shantry, McClenaghan, Andrew, Morris.