Worcestershire Head Coach Alex Gidman praised the “discipline, patience and decision-making” of centurion Jack Haynes and Azhar Ali during their marathon match-saving partnership against Durham in the LV=Insurance County Championship match at New Road.
The third-wicket pair batted together for 74 overs, and their 195 stand was a record for any Worcestershire wicket against Durham.
They defied a probing Durham attack for almost two-thirds of the final day, with Haynes completing his maiden Championship century off 227 balls with 17 fours and Pakistan star Azhar making a top quality 92.
Their efforts completed a tremendous comeback during the second half of the game by Worcestershire after they had been 41-4 in reply to Durham’s 580-6 declared.
Gidman said: “Very proud, a great comeback. We were under a lot of pressure throughout the game, particularly the first two days against a very strong Durham team.
“I’m immensely proud of the players. Everyone played their part, and we thoroughly deserved our points at the end of the day.
“Clearly, we believed in ourselves and had a good chance (going into the final day), but it’s a long time to bat.
“I thought the discipline, patience and decision-making from Jack and Azhar, and Brett D’Oliveira at the end there, was exceptional and really chuffed for them, especially Jack for his first hundred and Azhar for a huge contribution at a critical time.”
Gidman expects Haynes to build on his breakthrough red ball hundred and enjoy further success.
He said: “We’ve always believed that Jack was going to get that at some stage, and we believe there are many more in there as well,
“We know he is a very talented player. He has come very close on a couple of occasions, but credit to him, he stayed patient. Hopefully, that is the first of many.
“He played very well last week at Trent Bridge against a very good attack, and this is an extremely strong Durham team, and Jack showed his potential and class.”
Azhar hit his highest score to date for Worcestershire and was a calming influence on Haynes.
Gidman said: “You want your overseas players to contribute obviously, but you really need them now and again, and that was a really important innings in the context of the season, albeit very early, and the context of the game.
“That calmness, that cool head, and the experience again against a very good bowling attack, however flat the wicket was, was evident, and he showed his class.”
Gidman also paid tribute to the remarkable innings on Friday by new England Test captain Ben Stokes, who hit 17 sixes in his 161.
Gidman said: “It was very special to witness. I felt for our players, and it kind of accelerated the game and made winning it and drawing it at that stage look like it was going to be a really hard task.
“In the context of the game, it was an amazing innings, in the context of cricket, it was remarkable. We have seen Ben do similar things against international teams.”