Wednesday, June 14th, 2023


Worcestershire came within five runs of pulling off a superb victory after a thrilling last-day chase in pursuit of a 386 target in the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Sussex at Hove.

Sussex left them with 79 overs, and opener Jake Libby laid the initial foundations with another excellent innings and came within three runs of scoring his second century in the game.

Azhar Ali took over a similar role in pacing the run chase, and he showed all his class and know-how in completing his second hundred of the summer.

There were major partnerships and significant contributions involving all the front-line batters, and entering the final over, all four results were possible with eight needed for victory.

But Nathan McAndrew bowled a tight over and both sides had to settle for the five points each awarded for a draw from a superb advert for Championship cricket.

Worcestershire collected 12 points in total from the game and they are occupying fourth spot and well in the hunt for promotion at the halfway stage of the competition.

Sussex resumed on 359-6 in their second innings and Tom Alsop and Jack Carson extended their partnership to 140.

It was broken when Carson (75) was run out by Azhar’s throw, attempting a second run after Alsop had driven Usama Mir into the covers.

Alsop completed an excellent century off 225 balls with ten fours before the declaration at 447-7 after 88 runs had been added from 15 overs today.

Matthew Waite finished with 15-3-64-2, and Adam Finch, who kept going up the hill for long periods, 24-2-84-2.

Worcestershire began positively, and Libby immediately set the tone with back-to-back boundaries off Ari Karvelas.

Fellow opener Gareth Roderick also clipped Karvelas through mid-wicket for successive fours, and the half century came up in just 9.2 overs.

Worcestershire went into lunch on 55-0, and the stand was worth 74 before Roderick was lbw for 33 to a delivery angled back in from Karvelas.

Libby continued to look in fine touch and four overthrows enabled him to complete a 68 ball half century with nine fours.

Azhar proved the ideal foil to Libby, keeping the score ticking over and giving the opener plenty of strike.

Libby came down the wicket to loft Carson for a straight six, and he flicked Henry Shipley for four through mid-wicket to move into the 90s.

He seemed set for another hundred and had been on the field for every ball of the first three and a half days when, on 97, he pushed forward to a delivery from Carson, which turned and edged to first slip via the keeper’s gloves.

Libby hit one six and 14 fours in his 132 ball knock and added 93 with Azhar, and he received warm applause on his way back to the pavilion.

His last three innings at Hove have produced a total of 510 runs.

By tea, Worcestershire had moved onto 195-2 with Azhar unbeaten on 46 and required a further 191 from 34 overs.

Jack Haynes was full of aggressive intent and imaginative shots, and he twice used the reverse sweep to collect boundaries off James Coles and Carson.

Azhar completed his fifty off 86 balls, and another substantial partnership yielded 86 runs before Haynes, having made 44 from 54 balls, was lbw to a delivery from Nathan McAndrew, which scuttled through.

Adam Hose provided further impetus when he straight-drove Carson for a huge six and two boundaries from a reverse sweep and orthodox sweep in an over costing 14 runs.

He scored 47 from 40 balls before aiming another big hit at Fynn Hudson-Prentice and being caught behind.

Azhar remained unflustered and produced a cover drive straight out of the coaching manual at Shipley’s expense to move into the 80s.

Worcestershire Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira (3) was caught at mid-wicket off McAndrew at 325-5, but Waite maintained the momentum with 4-6-4 off successive balls from the Australian.

He made 18 off 11 deliveries before pulling Ari Karvelas to deep mid wicket.

Azhar leg glanced the same bowler for four to reach three figures – from 162 balls – but he lost his middle stump to Karvelas after backing away to attempt a big hit in the penultimate over.

McAndrew bowled the final over, and Championship debutant Usama Mir (1) fell from the first ball at deep mid wicket.

Finch and Joe Leach did everything possible to try and engineer a remarkable win, but McAndrew bowled a tight line, and they ended on 381-8.