BULLISH Worcestershire wicket-keeper Ben Cox is relishing the battle of the stumpers in Division One this season as he looks to catch the eye of England’s selectors.
The academy graduate began his ninth full season by scoring 65 in the first innings and taking three catches against Hampshire to kick off the campaign.
Unfortunately for the Pears, Hampshire prevailed by 196 runs at Southampton when the opening match of the county’s return to the top tier of English cricket ended on Monday
Cox made his Worcestershire debut in 2009 against Somerset and the 26-year-old knows he will need to continue to improve to push his claims for international honours.
“I’ve got better competition in Division One in terms of wicketkeepers, I can go head to head with the likes of Ben Foakes at Surrey and Alex Davies at Lancashire and compete with them in the runs tally and I would like to think I would be up there with my keeping,” Cox said.
“I’ve done it before with the bat in Division One the last time we were up there so I can take a lot of confidence from that. Whether it’s coming in at six or seven I will do my best for the team and adapt my game to the situation.
“It’s nice people are talking about my wicketkeeping in Division Two. If you can do the same thing in Division One that’s the sort of thing that gets you on England Lions tours.”
Cox went into the Hampshire game feeling confident about his game and eager to get on with the new campaign and said he would begin the season with a new outlook on his keeping.
“Wicketkeeping is something you can’t master, you’re always going to drop a ball or a catch, it’s one of those frustrating things,” he said.
“I strive to be the best I can, I’m feeling really confident about my game.”
The academy graduate was part of the class which saw Neil Pinner, Matt Pardoe and current skipper Joe Leach all pull on the Pears jersey after coming through the ranks.
Cox said the ‘Worcester Way’ offered opportunities for young cricketers.
“If you look at the whole of our squad, even Mags (Steve Magoffin) who’s back but played for Worcester before, all of us have been through the academy at some point so would be fair to see Worcester do breed cricketers,” he added.
“It’s a great sign to see academy players all playing first team cricket and motivation for the academy lads to see the opportunities which are here for them.”
During a difficult off-season, the Pears parted company with former director of cricket Steve Rhodes and welcomed new head coach Kevin Sharp, whose appointment was welcomed by the New Road dressing room.
“The foundations have been set long ago and we have matured together and we just get on with our business as we always have done,” added Cox.
“As a group of players we didn’t want an overhaul because we believe we have a good dressing room and the lads are exactly the same as last year and focused on the tasks ahead.”