Josh Tongue produced an impressive five-wicket haul as Worcestershire CCC bowled out Durham for 246 on the opening day of the LV=Insurance County Championship match at the Emirates Riverside.
The paceman finished with 5-39 from 19.2 overs after Club Captain Joe Leach opted to field first after winning the toss on a green-tinged wicket.
It was the sixth five-for of Tongue’s career and the first since his 5-37 – also against Durham – at New Road in May 2019 in his second match since returning to the side after injury and gaining match fitness in the Seconds.
He was well supported by the other members of Worcestershire’s four-pronged pace attack, with Charlie Morris picking up the key wicket of Dave Bedingham – the leading run-scorer in the country – and Leach dismissing opener Alex Lees for a determined 99.
Worcestershire’s efforts earned them the maximum three bowling bonus points, with Leach finishing with figures of 18-5-54-2, Ed Barnard 19-8-45-1, Morris 17-4-61-2 and leg spinner Brett D’Oliveira 9-2-21-0.
Openers Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby then negotiated three overs in making 6-0 before bad light stopped play eight overs early despite the floodlights being on.
Worcestershire made one change from the side which drew with Warwickshire at Edgbaston with Morris recalled in place of the rested West Indies paceman Alzarri Joseph.
In the seventh and final over of his first spell, Leach made the first breakthrough when he trapped Will Young (5) lbw with a delivery that nipped back.
Durham captain Scott Borthwick then played and missed at his first delivery from Leach (7-2-12-1), and there were early signs of some low bounce.
Morris caused problems for Lees, who edged him for four and then was beaten between bat and pad with the missing the stumps by inches.
The County paceman was rewarded for a fine spell when Borthwick edged a delivery slanted across him, and Tom Fell took a fine catch low to his right at third slip.
Durham reached 80-2 by lunch with Lees unbeaten on 30 and Dave Bedingham, the leading run-scorer in the country, 21 not out.
But Bedingham added only three more before becoming a second scalp for Morris, who again impressed in the early afternoon session with his nagging accuracy and movement.
The South African pushed forward, and this time Riki Wessels at first slip showed a safe pair of hands with the total 86-3.
New batsman Jack Burnham looked uncomfortable, but Lees continued to remain solid and reached an excellent half-century off 145 balls with five fours.
Two wickets in three balls from Tongue helped swing the game in Worcestershire’s favour.
Burnham (23) was pinned on the back foot and was trapped lbw, and then Ned Eckersley – who scored three centuries against Worcestershire as a Leicestershire player – was undone by a quick delivery which bowled him via his elbow.
It became 136-6 when Stuart Poynter (1) lobbed the easiest of catches to Wessels off Barnard, who gained some deserved reward for his efforts.
Lees accelerated and dominated a seventh wicket of 47 with Bryden Carse.
But after reaching 99 – from 202 balls with 12 fours – he went to cut the final ball before tea from Leach, and keeper Ben Cox, standing up, held onto a sharp catch.
Fifteen runs were added to the tea total of 183-7 when Tongue struck for a third time as he bowled Ben Raine (8) behind his legs and knocked out his leg stump.
Tongue took the second new ball at 234-8 from 80 overs and instantly ended a stand of 44 between Carse and Mark Wood (12) when bowling knocking out the middle stump of the England paceman.
He ended the innings when Chris Rushworth (2) played on to leave Carse unbeaten on 38.