WORCESTERSHIRE chairman Fanos Hira says "substantial increases in academy spend" are planned to develop the Blackfinch New Road club's own talent.

The County have brought through a string of players in recent years via the academy and they now make up a large proportion of the first-team squad.

Some overseas talent and experience has helped Alex Gidman's side enjoy white-ball success but Worcestershire have struggled in the four-day format over the past few years.

However, Hira believes the focus on homegrown prospects will eventually bear fruit in County Championship Division Two where the club ended up second from bottom last season in their worst finish for some time.

He said in his 2019 chairman's report: "We take pride and will continue to focus on developing our own talent.

"More than half of our squad has been capped since 2017 and in 2019 we awarded new caps to Jack Haynes, Josh Dell and Adam Finch.

"In 2018 it was to Dillon Pennington, Ben Twohig, Alex Milton and Ollie Westbury. Pat Brown and Josh Tongue were capped in the previous year.

"We anticipate substantial increases in academy spend in this coming year, emphasising our commitment to developing our own talent wherever possible.

"We are no longer constrained and have ambitions to excel, meaning we will look to bring in players if and when necessary."

But winning the 2018 T20 Vitality Blast and reaching last year's final as well as consistently reaching the Royal London One-Day Cup knockouts has contrasted sharply with the County's four-day form.

Hira continued: "Our red-ball performance disappointed us all ­— we had targeted promotion and failed to achieve that.

"Our goal was ­— and still is ­— to become a sustainable First Division red-ball side. For us to achieve this we’ve clearly more work to do.

"On the face of it, it could be argued with some candour we’ve had a large challenge for a long time.

"In 2015 we were relegated from Division One, in 2016 we did not get promoted.

"In 2017 due to a strong finish to the campaign we were promoted.

"Just as the table in 2018 when we got relegated didn’t lie, neither does the table in 2019 when we finished a disappointing ninth.

"In the last five years we have won only 23 out of 74 games.

"There are no excuses for 2019 performance but the path to achieving any goal is rarely linear and not immediate, especially in sport.

"The cricket steering group (CSG), led by Paul Pridgeon, have reflected and been very self-critical.

"There have been changes and the expectation and hope is of improvement in the coming year.

"The changes made are widespread and are being addressed and managed by Alex Gidman (head coach) and his support staff.

"Perhaps one of the key roles of the CSG is to retain and attract new talent. We’ve recently extended contracts for Joe Leach, Daryl Mitchell and Pat Brown.

"Whilst we are hopeful of more contract extensions shortly, we are comfortable with the contractual position for all our current players.

"We have also attracted talent ­— Hamish Rutherford, bringing continuity and consistency, returns for all formats for the whole season, Jake Libby joined us from Nottinghamshire and Ashton Turner is with us for the Vitality Blast campaign."