DIRECTOR of cricket Steve Rhodes has admitted that Worcestershire’s success in the LV= County Championship has exceeded his expectations.

The County head into today’s trip to Gloucestershire top of the Division Two table with six wins and five draws from 11 games, the latest being last week’s 204-run home triumph over Leicestershire.

Worcestershire are currently 22 points clear of nearest rivals Hampshire and 27 in front of in-form Surrey and have a game in hand on both.

Success has come during a season in which the club has had to deal with the retirement of seamer Alan Richardson and all-rounder Moeen Ali on England Test duty.

But Jack Shantry, Charlie Morris and Joe Leach have come to the fore in the bowling department, while skipper Daryl Mitchell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Alexei Kervezee, Tom Fell and Ben Cox have been among the batting stars.

Although Saeed Ajmal has had a huge influence on the side’s development, Rhodes did not expect them to be leading the way for promotion.

He said: “Is the four-day game going better than expected? It is exceeding all expectations to be honest and it’s not like just the odd player improving.

“Our better players, the likes of Mitch (Daryl Mitchell) and Moeen have become better players.

“Our players underneath that bracket, who have been playing first team cricket, the likes of Ben Cox and Gareth Andrew at the start of the year, have done extremely well.

“The youngsters, and the surprise picks like Richard Oliver, both Toms (Kohler-Cadmore and Fell), Alexei Kervezee, Charlie Morris and now Joe Leach, have all stood up.”

Rhodes continued: “When you look at the 11 who played against Leicestershire, they’ve been vital to our success in that nearly every player has improved a bit.

“When that happens, no matter who your overseas player is, then you are going to have a little bit better season.”