Worcestershire staff placed on leave after player charged with rape

According to reports, Steve Rhodes, the Worcestershire director of cricket, may have delayed telling club officials of an allegation of rape involving 21-year-old all-rounder Alex Hepburn.

Steve Rhodes, director of cricket at Worcestershire County Cricket Club, has been placed on leave.   -  Getty Images

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes has been placed on leave amid reports he delayed telling club officials of an allegation of rape involving one of the county's players, it was reported on Wednesday. Alex Hepburn, a 21-year-old all-rounder, was charged on November 9 with two counts of rape and has now been suspended on full pay, Worcestershire said on Wednesday.

Not only has former Worcestershire and England wicket-keeper Rhodes been placed on leave by the Midlands county, he has also been relieved of his upcoming appointment with the England Under-19 side.

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According to ESPNcricinfo, it is alleged that when Hepburn was first arrested on April 1, he approached Rhodes for assistance and that Rhodes agreed not to pass on details to club's board. While the investigation continued, Hepburn signed a one-year contract extension with the county.

Two counts of rape

Hepburn has been suspended on full pay and will appear in court on December 7, while Rhodes is facing an internal Worcestershire disciplinary inquiry. A statement issued by West Mercia police said: "A man has been charged in connection with a rape investigation in Worcester. Alex Hepburn, aged 21 of Diglis, Worcester, was charged on 9 November with two counts of rape of a woman 16 years or older. The charge is in connection with an investigation into the rape of a woman on 1 April 2017. Hepburn will appear at Worcester Magistrates Court on 7 December 2017."

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Meanwhile an England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman told ESPNcricinfo: "The ECB can confirm Steve Rhodes will not be travelling to South Africa as head coach to the Young Lions on secondment from Worcestershire. Richard Dawson, the Gloucestershire head coach, will take on the role of head coach to the Young Lions squad in South Africa."

No comment from club

Hepburn moved to England in 2013 from Australia where he had played for Western Australia Under-17s. He played two one-day games for Worcestershire in 2015 and this year appeared in its Twenty20 team.

Worcestershire issued a statement on Wednesday confirming Hepburn's arrest and the charge said: "As the matter is now subject to criminal proceedings, the club is unable to provide any further comment at this stage."

It added that Worcestershire County Cricket Club "can confirm they are currently dealing with a disciplinary matter involving Steve Rhodes and relates solely to his role as director of cricket. The matter is ongoing so at this time there will be no further comment".