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Andy Bichel on life in England and Worcestershire's mixed start to the county season

My family and I have settled in well, but I guess we've been here for a couple months now. Worcester is a lovely part of England in which to live and a great position from which to move about the country (as you do when playing cricket) because it's so central.

The people involved at the club are great and my teammates are also a fantastic group of lads. I must admit having Tom Moody and his family here, along with the fact that Tom is coach, has made things a little easier for us. His experience at both the international level and playing for Worcester has been a great help now that he is coach.

There is no doubt that playing county cricket is something that I have always wanted to do. The thing that appealed to me most was the challenge of playing a lot more cricket than we do in an Australian first-class season. The other factor was also the difference in playing conditions that you come up against over here in the UK.

For me, the number one thing that I will gain is first-hand experience of the standard of cricket that is played here. People have often spoken to me about the amount of cricket played here, Englishmen and Australians alike.

For someone like me, looking in from the outside, I think the two division structure is an excellent way to find the best players in this country. It may not seem like it just yet, but I'm sure there will be a noticeable difference in a few years' time. I guess this is ultimately what the ECB is trying to achieve and I'm sure most players and teams would like to be playing in the number one division against the best players; it gives everyone something for which to aim.

For people who haven't seen a lot of county cricket, it's probably worth pointing out that the eighteen teams are split into two divisions which each contain nine teams. Therefore, everyone plays in a home and away game situation, which makes for a fairer competition, very similar to the Pura Cup (formerly Sheffield Shield) competition in Australia. Some people may feel that there is still too much cricket but a big factor which comes into play in this country is the weather during the months of April and May.

Worcester, as a side, has had a mixed start to the season, and the poor weather in April and May certainly played a huge part in that. We've had nine days play where we haven't bowled a ball in the four-day competition, albeit that we've completed all of our one-day games.

In Championship cricket (the four-day version of the game), we're placed in the bottom half of the table and it has been hard to get our teeth into the competition largely because of the weather. In total, we've drawn four of the seven games that we've played because of the conditions.

In the one-dayers, we've played a lot better, although maybe a little inconsistently at times.

In the Benson & Hedges Cup, we started well and just got beaten by Warwickshire courtesy of a 38-run partnership for the last wicket which, in the context of the game, could well have been described as a little freaky. We therefore missed out on a spot in the finals for the competition which was a disappointing result. But, as a team, I think we learnt from it and it will hopefully help us later on this season.

In the National League, we're currently lying third and have done quite well to get there, considering we lost our last game against Glamorgan. Fellow Queenslander Jimmy Maher had a day out at the crease but it was fair to say that our fielding let us down on this occasion, another area in which we've been a little inconsistent at times. For Jimmy and his team, I think they were looking forward to this game as we beat them in the Benson & Hedges game earlier in the season.

The Aussies have been here too as part of their preparations for the one-day series against England and Pakistan, a series that seemed to hold great expectation amongst those interested.

I must say that things seemed a little rusty at the start of the series but by the end it was awesome! In the early games it was our batting which won us the points as the pitches that were produced were fantastic for one-day cricket with plenty of runs being scored. You could easily see the bowlers were underdone in terms of match practice.

With a few injuries to the squad it gave Brett Lee a chance to be drafted into the one-day team after he originally wasn't in the squad and to receive some match practice. It was nice to get a call to be on stand by just in case Brett hadn't pulled up well after his first game. Undoubtedly, I would love to play more cricket for Australia and, for a few hours there, I thought I was going to get that chance again. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Next up for us now is a Championship game against Nottinghamshire and then a back to back effort against Derbyshire with a one-dayer and Championship game.

Until next time,

Andy Bichel

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