Wednesday 7 March 2007 

Flooding Jeopardises Royals' County Fixtures

Worcestershire are adamant their New Road ground will be ready for the start of the upcoming season despite a fourth flood of the winter.

The River Severn has again burst its banks to leave more than a foot of water lying across the outfield and square with only six weeks to go before the opening County Championship match with Durham.

In 2001 the county had to move games to Kidderminster after devastating flooding problems. But Worcestershire chief executive Mark Newton is hopeful that a similar outcome will be avoided if the weather relents for two to three weeks before the start of the campaign.

He said: ``It's been one of the hardest winters and the experts say this is the latest flood in a winter that they can recall since 1998.
``If you recall in 2001 the early games had to be taken to Kidderminster. But at the moment our thoughts are well away from that. It just depends how long this flood stays in place.
``But our thoughts are, if we can get two or three weeks of reasonable weather, with no flooding, then we can get wickets ready for the first game on April 18.
``The players are due back two weeks on Monday and that is going to cause a problem although they are going to working be at Shrewsbury School for the first week so that helps - and we have arranged away friendly games.
``What is likely to happen is the wickets will have a bit more spice in them than they normally would at the start of the season when they are normally quite juicy anyway.
``Everyone is really down about it because we had just cleared up after the last flood and now we have to start all over again.
``It is that kind of mood but certainly we are not worried about the beginning of the season yet.''