MYSTERY surrounds the future of Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes amid allegations he hid rape accusations made against cricketer Alex Hepburn.

ESPN yesterday reported long-serving Rhodes had been put on leave by his county and England over an alleged cover-up with an ECB statement confirming he would not be travelling to South Africa with the Young Lions.

A release from Worcestershire followed, stating the club is “currently dealing with a disciplinary matter involving Steve Rhodes” that “relates solely to his role as director of cricket”.

The club’s comments did not stipulate whether the 53-year-old had been stood down from his post and a club spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the claim. It has been reported he will discover his fate during the first week of December.

The Rhodes news was added to Worcestershire’s announcement over Hepburn, who is suspended on full pay while the 21-year-old Australian faces rape charges over an incident that dates back to April 1, 2017.

ESPN claim Rhodes had agreed not to report the Hepburn investigation to the club’s board.

The all-rounder penned a new one-year contract in October on the back of stellar performances for the second team.

Hepburn topped the charts for wickets and runs in three and four-day cricket and broke into the Rapids side for the final five matches in the NatWest T20 Blast.

His 5-24 return at home to Notts Outlaws was Worcestershire’s best bowling analysis in the short format.

Hepburn had made his senior breakthrough in 2015 with six wickets in two appearances in the Royal London One-Day Cup while making four centuries for the seconds.

Speaking in October, Rhodes said: “He’s put on the table some good performances in the second team this year.

“Added to that he came into the first team and got a five-wicket haul in the T20. He thoroughly deserves the opportunity to carry on his career.

“We are optimistic that next year will be a real breakthrough year for the lad.”

The club’s statement on Hepburn read: “Worcestershire CCC can confirm that Alex Hepburn was charged on November 9 with two counts of rape following an investigation by West Mercia Police into an incident which occurred on Saturday April 1, 2017.

“Hepburn has been suspended on full pay pending further investigation and will next appear at Worcester Magistrates Court on December 7, 2017. As the matter is now subject to criminal proceedings the club is unable to provide any further comment at this stage.”

Rhodes, who played 391 first-class matches for Worcestershire in a 20-year career which included 11 Test appearances for England, stepped up from a coaching role to become director of cricket in October 2005.

The news lands two months after Worcestershire sealed the County Championship Division Two crown.

When contacted by Worcester News, Rhodes declined to comment.