Rare top-flight win puts ‘Shankargate’ behind Worcs

Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire’s director of cricket, has played down the significance of ‘Shankargate’ in his side’s first County Championship win of the season.

Worcestershire ended a run of six straight defeats with a six-wicket win over champions Nottinghamshire in a thrilling run chase at New Road in their first outing since batsman Adrian Shankar had his contract terminated for allegedly supplying false information.

“If you look at the performance over the three days it was a good team performance. Did it bring us together? I think it’s just a chapter in the life of the club,” Rhodes said.

“That’s what happened. If you ask some of the players some of them were quite shocked at the way a player is with you and then he is not with you a couple of weeks later.

“I don’t know whether that was the inspiration for winning a game of cricket. I’m sure it wasn’t. A lot of hard work goes into winning games and they prepared and put their efforts in just the same as any other game.”

Worcestershire’s win was only their second in the top flight in 44 matches and their first in Division One at New Road since May 2004.

They paced their chase to perfection thanks to 85 from Vikram Solanki, his highest score since he stepped down as captain last August, and a fourth half-century of the season from rookie Matt Pardoe.

“You can’t fail to be impressed with the way that Matt Pardoe has shown a method of coping with lots of different situations, lots of different wickets  and conditions,” Rhodes said.

“It’s easy to forget that he is now opening at the age of 20 in  Division One cricket against good bowlers. He’s finding ways of scoring, he’ s finding ways of surviving and getting us off to reasonable starts and he’s  finding ways of scoring runs himself.

“The good thing about Matt is that he does pick up things quickly and he finds ways of doing things. I think the thing that got him going, and it’s something that we have been working on, is when he starts to get his running between the wickets a little bit quicker and sharper.

“It seems to get his game going. Strike rotation always gets your score going and suddenly when the four-ball is there you hit it.”

Rhodes also praised Solanki who has started to run into form after a patchy start to the season.

“If you watched him, his footwork was a lot better. Batting is not just about striking the ball. If you have got good footwork it puts you in better positions for hitting the ball,” Rhodes said.

“I thought Vikram’s footwork was good  today and hopefully he can take that forward into the Twenty 20 Cup.”

Worcestershire begin their Friends Life t20 campaign against Lancashire at Old Trafford on Friday June 3 when they are likely to be without an overseas player.

Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan’s arrival has been delayed because of problems in picking up his visa but he is expected in England on Friday night.

Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal is not expected until late next week at the earliest but Australian seamer Damien Wright, who was due to replace Ajmal, is likely to miss out because of a calf strain.

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