HIGHLY-RATED Pears wicketkeeper Ben Cox has plunged his future at New Road into doubt by rejecting the offer of a two-year contract extension.
The 28-year-old chose to enter the final year of his contract in a move which raises the prospect of the talented stumper moving away from New Road at the end of this season. Under ECB rules, Cox will be able to talk to other counties once the season gets under way.
Club chiefs revealed the move in an update to members last week and confirmed Cox, former skipper Daryl Mitchell, Ross Whiteley, Riki Wessels, Alex Milton and Josh Dell were also entering the final year of their current deals.
While no final decision has been made, Cox’s decision raises the spectre of former Pears stumper Steven Davies who left for Surrey in 2009 at the end of his Pears deal to boost his international chances.
Cox was player of the match in both the semi-final and final of the T20 Blast when Worcestershire won the competition in 2018 with a memorable 46 in the final to seal victory and is widely regarded as one of the best behind the stumps.
Despite his talent, Cox is yet to have been fully recognised by his country in any format of the game and may choose to move away from New Road to raise his profile within the county game.
Speaking to members last week, Cricket Steering Group chairman Paul Pridegon said the club would be ‘disappointed’ if Cox left New Road but said it would be his decision.
2021 signing Gareth Roderick would be the natural replacement for Cox as wicketkeeper-batsman alongside Milton, who made an impression when he replaced Cox for a number of four-day games in 2019.
Pridgeon also revealed New Road chiefs had drawn up a list of four potential spinners to bolster the bowling attack for the season ahead with a deal for one collapsing before Christmas due to ‘personal reasons’ despite a contract being agreed.
It is not clear whether the Pears chief was referring to a domestic signing or an overseas star.
A spinner remains on the club’s shopping list as well as a possible short-term deal for a pace bowler, with Josh Tongue working his way back from an off-season shoulder operation.