WORCESTERSHIRE chief executive David Leatherdale has insisted director of cricket Steve Rhodes will not be sacked in the aftermath of the club’s relegation from Division One of the LV= County Championship.

As well as relinquishing their top-flight status in the four-day format, the County lost seven of their 12 Clydesdale Bank 40 matches to finish at the foot of the Group ‘A’ table, while a Friends Life t20 quarter-final spot was the only highlight of a poor campaign.

In the Championship, Australian overseas batsman Phil Hughes, who has expressed his desire to return to New Road next season if available, averaged 35, while a flurry of runs late in the season took Alexei Kervezee past 30, but they were the only batsmen to make it out of the 20s as run-scoring proved to be the club’s Achilles’ heel.

Veteran Alan Richardson again shouldered the vast majority of the bowling workload with 57 scalps and off-spinner Moeen Ali was the club’s next highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket with 33. Poor form saw the seam bowling trio of Dave Lucas, Richard Jones and Jack Shantry finish the season in the second XI.

Leatherdale explained: “The director of cricket presents a review of the season at our October board meeting and it will be up to him to assess what went right and wrong last season and what we can do.

“We are not at all thinking about changing Bumpy.

“He works harder than any other director of cricket in the country and we have a lot of respect for him.

“People forget that in 2007 we won the 40-over competition, then two years ago we got promoted from Division Two when nobody expected us to and the following year we stayed up despite being quoted as 20-1 on to go straight back down.

“This season we have had a few younger guys in the side who have had to play senior cricket sooner than we would have liked. Moving from having played a few second XI matches straight into Division One cricket is the equivalent of a football player moving directly from League One into the Premier League.

“Several of our senior guys didn’t perform and the combination of that and us having to blood a lot of younger players contributed to our difficult season.

“While Division Two cricket will still be difficult, we hope our young players can keep on improving next year.”

On the subject of a potential return for overseas ace Hughes, Leatherdale added: “It has been expressed by Phil and his agent that he definitely wants to come back to Worcestershire next season if his available.”