Will Rhodes is leading from the front. And that’s in more ways than one.
The opener, who completed his first full Bears season last year, scored 974 first-class runs at an impressive average of 42.34, which included four hundreds and a top score of 137.
"Some lads are going to have to step up but that’s part and parcel of county cricket."
Six months on, it was no surprise to see the native Yorkshireman add 88 runs in the County Championship curtain-raiser in Dubai as the MCC drew with Surrey.
A batsman will always earn his corn in runs, but for Rhodes there’s now an extra responsibility within the changing room despite being a relatively new arrival.
The departures of Jonathan Trott, Keith Barker and Chris Wright have left a void and Rhodes alongside others are ready to fill it.
That’s why he was tasked to captain the Bears in one of their Abu Dhabi 50-over preseason friendlies.
It’s a role he knows very well after leading England to third place in the Under 19s World Cup in 2014 and at various age groups the Yorkshire Academy.
“On the captaincy front it’s always nice to do it,” said Rhodes.
“I spent a lot of time at Yorkshire doing captaincy work and I’m just carrying on from before.”
With Trott now working for the England Lions and Ian Bell out for up to three months with an injury, there’s also an opportunity to become the eyes and ears in the slip cordon.
It’ll certainly look strange not seeing number four or nine next to Tim Ambrose’s 11 against Kent, but that’s a role Rhodes is definitely willing to take.
“I’m certainly enjoying slip as there’s not much running anymore,” laughed Rhodes who spent the winter in Australia.
“But you’ve got to fill spots that legends have left and for me fielding at first slip is one of those roles.
“We’ve got a lot of good players who got experience last year and myself and Dom (Sibley) at the top of the order are probably two of the most senior lads, so some lads are going to have to step up but that’s part and parcel of county cricket.
“That’s the best way to learn and get out there and do it by playing games. The lads are really looking forward to that.”
Warwickshire embark on a campaign that’ll see all Royal London One Day Cup fixtures follow the opening Kent fixture – which starts on Thursday 11 April at Edgbaston.
The Bears host four of their first five County Championship matches giving Jeetan Patel’s side an excellent opportunity to use home advantage to push up the table.
Rhodes however, is well aware of the additional pressure that comes with the scheduling.
“I think it’s the same for every team. With only eight teams the games come thick and fast and I think that first game against Kent – with two teams who have just come up – it’ll show where you’re at,” the 24-year-old added.
“I always enjoy playing at Edgbaston and last year the crowd were fantastic and it was always nice to win games there.
“I think we made it a little bit of a fortress and we’re going to need that again this year.
“Hopefully we can get a win against Kent early doors and start the one-dayers positively.
“The beginning of the season is all about cumulating points on the board for the latter end of the season.
“You saw with Notts last year, they could have come second or been relegated in the last two games, so it’s going to be a big year and I’m looking forward to it.”
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