Paceman Jack Shantry has declared that the time has come for Worcestershire’s young squad to repay the faith of the club after he joined a growing list of players to sign a contract extension at New Road today.
The 27-year-old has agreed a three-year deal – extending his old contract by a season – and becomes the ninth player to commit his future to the Pears since August.
Worcestershire were relegated after just a single season back in the County Championship top-flight last summer to continue their reputation for yo-yoing between the divisions.
Shantry believes, however, that the foundations are being built to shed that unwanted tag.
Joe Clarke, Ed Barnard, Joe Leach, Tom Fell, Brett D’Oliveira, Charlie Morris, Ross Whiteley and Tom Kohler-Cadmore have all been tied down in recent months and Shantry suspects that core of young players can drive the club forward in all formats.
“It was very pleasing to see the other contract extensions of players at the cub for the good of this club’s future like Joe Leach, Tom Fell and Joe Clarke,” said Shantry, who claimed 50 first-class wickets for the second successive season last summer.
“It was great to see them and all the others sign and to now join them and have three more years at Worcestershire is very pleasing.
“Nine of us have signed up since August and it shows the level of morale at the club even though we had a difficult year in Championship cricket.
“People enjoy playing for Worcestershire and we’ve got a group of players here that are only going to improve and it’s nice to be shown that faith by the director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, and David Leatherdale (chief executive).
“It’s time to repay them over the next couple of years and I think this group of players will do that and we will go from strength to strength.”
In additions to keeping their best young talent Worcestershire have done their business early in terms of overseas signings.
New Zealand paceman Matt Henry will play the first half of the season before South Africa’s Kyle Abbott replaces him. Promising Black Caps spinner Mitchell Santner has also been signed for the NatWest T20 Blast.
Worcestershire were a game away from reaching Finals Day in the Blast for the first time last summer – when they earned a maiden home quarter-final – and Shantry thinks similar progress can be made in the Championship after the lessons learned from relegation.
“We’ve made progress over the last few years. The 2015 season was difficult obviously,” he said.
“There were games we should have won and could have won but we didn’t and that’s the steep learning curve of Division-One cricket.
“This group of players will only get better and I’m very pleased and very proud to put my name to Worcestershire for another three years.”
Director of cricket Rhodes was pleased to tie down one of his key players for another year.
“Statistically, if you look at what Jack did in Division One last season after what he did in 2014, he has been excellent with his wicket-taking and his economy and strike rate has been very good,” he said.
“He is as honest as they come, he has got a great record in terms of not missing games through injury and is one of the crop of bowlers that we want to be part of things for us for a few years to come.”