Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

County Tie Up Victory At Cheltenham To Boost Promotion Hopes

County Tie Up Victory At Cheltenham To Boost Promotion Hopes

Worcestershire took another step towards promotion when they defeated Gloucestershire by eight wickets inside three days in a LV = County Championship Division Two encounter at Cheltenham.

Gloucestershire resumed on 10-1 after being asked to follow on yesterday evening and they were bowled out for 289 to leave the county a victory target of 51 which was achieved for the loss of skipper Daryl Mitchell (15) and Richard Oliver (18).

The final margin would have been even greater but for a last wicket stand of 137 in 33 overs between Liam Norwell (78) and Craig Miles (62 not out).  

Jack Shantry returned the best figures of 4-52 from 21 overs to take his Championship wicket tally for the campaign to 40.

Charlie Morris (39) is not far behind the left armer after finishing with 3-52 and there were two more wickets for Championship debutant Mitchell McClenaghan.

It was the perfect riposte to those critics who branded the county a one man team reliant too much on Pakistan spin wizard Saeed Ajmal.

But the bowlers will be the first to recognise the importance of skipper Daryl Mitchell's marathon innings of 167 not out which spanned more than seven and a half hours and gave them the runs in the bank to attack the home side.

Unbeaten Worcestershire's seventh win of the season earned them 23 points and moved them 43 points clear of second placed Surrey, who were beaten by Kent, and with a game in hand and 45 points in front of Hampshire.

McClenaghan opened the attack this morning and again bowled with great pace and aggression as he removed nightwatchman Tom Smith and Will Tavare during his initial four over spell.

Smith was given a searching examination by McClenaghan before he brought about his downfall.

The spinner edged one delivery just short of third slip and nicked another for four to third man.

But after making nine, he tried to cut McClenaghan and edged through to wicket-keeper Ben Cox.

Mitchell employed an ultra attacking field for Alex Gidman consisting of five slips, backward point and a short third man.

McClenaghan struck again when Tavare (11) attempted to pull and the ball came off the toe end of the end and ballooned high into the air to Morris backward of square leg.

Morris had bowled a fiery spell at the College Lawn End in tandem with McClenaghan.

McClenaghan was replaced after a spell of 4-0-12-2 by Shantry and the left armer was soon into his stride.

Alex Gidman played some fluent strokes if making 37 but he then played inside the line to Shantry and was bowled to leave Gloucestershire on 79-4 in the 25th over.

That ended a parrtnership of 49 in 12 overs between Gidman and Hamish Marshall.

Shantry continued to probe away and in his next over he accounted for Marshall (15) was deceived by a delivery which swung late and gave Cox his third catch of the innings at 84-5.

Gloucestershire reached 103-5 by lunch but lost their sixth wicket after Morris returned to the attack after the interval.

Will Gidman (11) clipped the second delivery from Morris straight to Shantry at square leg.

Ian Cockbain was struck twice on the helmet by McClenaghan during another testing spell and required a change of headgear.

But it was Shantry who brought about Cockbain's downfall after he replaced Cockbain when he was adjudged lbw for 15 in his first over back in the attack.

Shantry's 40th wicket of the season arrived in his next over when Benny Howell (24) shouldered arms and was bowled to leave Gloucestershire on 136-8.

Worcestershire closed in on victory and Joe Leach was rewarded with his first wicket of the innings when wicket-keeper Adam Rouse (15) drove into the hands of Mitchell at second slip.

Gloucestershire were then 152-9 before Miles and Norwell put together Gloucestershire's highest ever 10th wicket partnership before the latter was bowled by Morris after the second new ball had been taken.

When Worcestershire replied Mitchell was caught at slip off spinner Tom Smith while Oliver fell to a skier at cover off Howell before an impressive victory was sealed.