Charlie Morris completed a five wicket haul before Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby sparkled with the bat as Worcestershire struck back strongly on the second day of the Bob Willis Trophy derby encounter with Warwickshire at Blackfinch New Road.
County paceman Morris picked up four wickets today and ended with figures of 23-3-80-5 as Warwickshire, who were 228-3 overnight, lost six wickets for 47 runs before declaring at 355-9 with Will Rhodes making a career best 207.
It was the sixth five-wicket haul of Morris’s career and he now needs just two more scalps to reach the 200 mark in first class cricket.
Ben Cox’s excellent form behind the stumps also continued after he reached the 500 dismissals mark in his career at Northampton earlier this week.
His quintet of catches lifted his haul for the summer to 22 – and it is comfortably the highest tally by a keeper in the Bob Willis Trophy.
Mitchell and Libby then again showed their quality during an unbroken opening partnership of 170 from 58 overs.
Worcestershire, who started this round of matches heading the Central Group, immediately took the second new ball when play on a slow-paced pitch resumed this morning.
Rhodes and Dan Mousley extended their overnight stand to 128 in 40 overs but then the wickets started to tumble.
Morris made the first breakthrough of the day when Mousley (47) edged a waist high catch to Cox.
Barnard picked up his second wicket of the innings in the next over when Bears keeper Michael Burgess (1) was also caught behind.
Tim Bresnan made a breezy 17 before pulling Morris into the hands of Jake Libby positioned at deep square leg.
Morris ended Rhodes excellent knock at 207 when he aimed a hit down the ground and once again Cox showed a safe pair of hands.
The County keeper then excelled with a sharp reflex catch away to his right to account for Alex Thomson (14)
Morris completed his nap hand when Craig Miles (0) went for a pulled and skied a catch to Brett D’Oliveira at mid-wicket. It took his wicket tally to 14 in five innings this summer.
When Worcestershire launched their reply, Mitchell and Libby continued their good form since joining forces as an opening pair for this competition.
Neither batsman was particularly troubled with Mitchell first to a half century off 103 balls with a steer to third man off Oliver Hannon-Dalby for his seventh boundary.
Libby followed him to fifty with a single off Ryan Sidebottom – from 122 balls with four fours and the century stand came up in 38.4 overs.
It was another excellent effort by the talented duo after partnerships of 152 against Gloucestershire and 97 versus Glamorgan.
Mitchell ended unbeaten on 85 from 183 balls with 10 fours and Libby 80 not out from 167 deliveries with seven boundaries.
Charlie Morris: “It was hard work on that wicket. I thought Leach, Barnard and Tongue bowled fantastically – and Mitch as well last night. They all deserved to get the wickets.
“It hasn’t done much even with the new ball. It is just a matter of being patient for long, long periods of time and I thought we stuck at that task pretty well today. We are happy with the way we bowled and we are 170-0 and that’s a great position to be in going into tomorrow.
“You’ve just got to keep plugging away and the main thing is for us to have a really good first session tomorrow, keep building and not look too far ahead and see where we get come lunchtime in our last 30 overs and you never know.
“If we manage to get a slight lead, then we could put them under some pressure in the second innings.”