CHIEF executive Matt Rawnsley believes a fresh mindset will see Worcestershire kick off 2019 with heightened expectations.

The T20 Blast champions set the bar high in limited-overs cricket but suffered in the County Championship, dropping straight back into Division Two.

There has been a shuffle of the coaching staff with Alex Gidman taking charge of first-team affairs having presided over white-ball efforts last term.

And on the back of a trip to Abu Dhabi and warm-up matches on their return Rawnsley reckons the foundations have been laid for success on all three fronts.

“Expectations are high coming off the back of a very positive white-ball year for us, we will be the side to beat in that respect,” said the New Road chief.

“We keep saying we are no longer the underdogs or minnows, the expectation on us is much higher and when people come here they will realise they are playing a high-quality side.

“In the red-ball it was very disappointing to get relegated last year but with three up we have expectations of being promoted again.

“We want to attract good players and be very competitive. This squad is the fittest it has been within this current group and it was important to Alex to set those standards before we went on tour.

“The tour was really positive. The two weeks we spent was a bit longer with a larger squad size so to have that competition for places is really positive, that drives a higher level of performance."

Following the completion of the 50-over preparations, attentions now turn to a three-day match against Cambridge University at Fenner's beginning tomorrow (11am).

The opening Championship Division Two clash with Leicestershire takes place at the Fischer County Ground from April 11.

Wicketkeeper Ben Cox will skipper Worcestershire against the students after being appointed red-ball vice-captain last week.

Club captain Joe Leach is going through the final stages of his rehabilitation programme following a stress fracture of the back.

New signings Riki Wessels and Wayne Parnell are part of the side.

Wessels has been at Blackfinch New Road during the build-up to the campaign while Parnell flew in on Sunday after being given time to recharge his batteries following a busy winter of T20 cricket.

The Cambridge fixture is not deemed first-class as the university have already featured in two matches against other counties.

Worcestershire: Mitchell, Fell, D’Oliveira, Dell, Wessels, Whiteley, Cox, Barnard, Parnell, Tongue, Morris.