Friday, August 6th, 2021


Jacques Banton showed his potential with bat and ball before Worcestershire Rapids were edged out by two wickets in a tense Royal London Cup encounter with Sussex Sharks at New Road.

Banton led a fine fightback by the Worcestershire middle and lower order with 33 off 41 balls as they recovered from 137-7 to post a competitive 233-9 in 50 overs.

Sussex were then in the ascendancy at 160-1, but Banton struck twice in his first over and had figures of 3-15 from his four overs.

The Rapids bowled and fielded excellently in the final 20 overs and stretched the game into the last over before a six from their former batsman, Travis Head, settled the issue with three balls.

Worcestershire will now head to Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday before Tuesday’s home encounter with Durham looking for the two wins needed to boost their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.

The Rapids opted to bat after winning the toss on the pitch used for the games with Kent and Middlesex.

Jack Haynes looked in good form as he collected a boundary off each of the Sussex new ball pairing of Joe Sarro and Henry Crocombe.

Brett D’Oliveira (11) was run out by Sussex skipper Tom Haines direct hit at the non-striker’s end after he had played Crocombe to widish mid-on.

Haynes on 17 survived a caught and bowled chance in spinner James Coles’ first over as the Rapids reached 52-1 by the end of the initial powerplay.

But the England Under-19 batsman was dismissed by the same bowler after making 24 when he made room to cut and was caught behind at 69-2.

Archie Lenham came into the attack, and the young leg spinner, Coles and the experienced Will Beer bowled well in tandem on a helpful pitch.

Tom Fell (29) was bowled by a fine delivery from Lenham, who then held onto a return catch from Gareth Roderick (0) while Ed Barnard (7) made room to hit on the off side and dragged the ball onto his stumps.

Jake Libby and Club Captain Joe Leach batted sensibly after joining forces at 89-5, adding 43 in 10 overs.

Leach (12) was lbw after sweeping at Coles, and in his next over, Libby, having made 40 off 58 balls, was also trapped in front after working to leg.

Worcestershire were then 137-7 in the 34th over but Jacques Banton, recalled to the side for his second Royal London Cup appearance, showed his potential as part of a fightback with the lower order.

He struck Lenham for a straight six in his final over and was given good support by Josh Baker in a partnership of 40.

Baker (16) holed out to wide long-off against Crocombe, but Banton went onto make 33 from 41 balls before he was caught behind from a leading edge.

The last wicket pair of Charlie Morris and Adam Finch gave the innings more momentum with an unbroken partnership of 39 in 3.5 overs.

Finch grandly ended the innings with a straight six off Crocombe, and he was unbeaten on 23 from 11 balls and Morris 22 from 21 deliveries.

Morris made the first breakthrough when Ben Brown (20) was caught and bowled with 33 on the board in the seventh over.

Successive balls beat Ali Orr from Leach outside the off stump, and he also played and missed against Barnard.

The Rapids bowlers kept the score in check to the extent that only 25 runs were scored between the 10th and the 20th overs.

Ali Orr and Sharks captain Tom Haines batted sensibly during a second wicket partnership of 127 in 27.1 overs.

Baker ended the stand when Haines (46) attempted a lap shot and was caught by Leach at short third man.

Orr completed a 128 ball hundred with four sixes and six fours, but then he became one of two wickets to fall in Jacques Banton’s first over.

Orr (108) found the safe hands of Morris at long off and in the same over Coles (2) was safely taken by D’Oliveira at cover.

It became 195-5 when Haynes made no mistake at long off to dismiss Oli Carter (6) off the bowling of D’Oliveira, and then Danial Ibrahim (1) went lbw to Banton.

Barnard trapped Beer lbw for eight, and then the first ball of the final over from Baker saw Lenham caught at short fine leg by Banton before Head had the final say.