Friday, 22 May 2015
Worcestershire cricketer George Rhodes has praised the ‘excellent’ support system at the University of Worcester after he was handed his first professional cricket contract.
The 21 year-old signed his contract with Worcestershire County Cricket Club earlier this month, with the deal coming into effect on June 1 – after his three-year University scholarships has come to an end.
George’s scholarship has seen the University subsidise his tuition fees over the last three years, as well as providing him with academic support and advice as he went about combining his cricket career with studying for his undergraduate degree.
George admits that this has been a delicate balancing act, but his success has now been rewarded by Worcestershire CCC, where he has made his way through the ranks after joining as a nine year-old, following in the footsteps of his father Steve, who played for Worcestershire and England during his own distinguished career.
“I always had cricket in mind when I was choosing a university,” says George. “I wanted to give myself the best chance of being a professional cricketer, whilst also having a good back-up in the form of a degree.
“The scholarship offered to me by the University of Worcester gave me a great opportunity to study close to home, and more importantly gave me the chance to train full-time with the professionals at Worcestershire in order to develop my game.
“As I cricketer, I always wanted to play for Worcestershire; there is a special family environment there that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the country.”
George, who made his second team debut at the age of just 16, now finds himself on the fringes of the first team after an impressive start to this season.
“I have been given the opportunity to bat higher up the order last year and at the start of this year, which has been successful,” he explains. “I have scored 400 runs so far this year for the second team, which helped my cause when it came to being in contention for a professional contract.
“I also had a good pre-season with the whole squad in Abu Dhabi, which helped me to develop my off spin bowling further to keep pushing for an all-rounder spot in the first team. I played two friendlies for the first team whilst in Abu Dhabi, and my goal this year is to play competitive first team cricket.”
The all-rounder credits the support he has received during his three years at the University as a major factor in helping him to advance his career.
“Academically, the university has supported me tremendously,” he continues. “Christian Edwards has been my elite athlete mentor over the last three years, and if I had any issues with time-management, Christian gave me solutions so I could complete my work to the best standard possible.
“Both Christian and Mick Donovan, the Head of the University’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, have been very understanding of my training and playing commitments with Worcestershire, and have enabled me to cope with my studying alongside cricket. I have found the University support system to be excellent.
“I believe I now have the best opportunity possible to progress my cricket and really be the best I can be; who knows where that will take me, but I hope it will be a full career playing the sport.”