Thursday, July 27th, 2023


Worcestershire Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira hit his highest score of the season and then Joe Leach bowled an inspired spell either side of tea on day two of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.

D’Oliveira shared in a record-breaking stand with Josh Baker as Worcestershire claimed four batting bonus points.

His 90 held the Worcestershire innings together after coming to the wicket at 95-4 and helping to lift the to 406 all out from 90.5 overs.

Leach then picked up three key wickets in the space of 16 balls to lift his tally for the campaign to 39.

By the close Gloucestershire had reached 212-4.

Leach finished the day with figures of 16-5-31-3 with Dillon Pennington (14-3-38-1) the other wicket-taker while spinner Baker bowled a tight and controlled spell

D’Oliveira batted for more than four and a half hours and surpassed his 89 in the opening game of the season against Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground.

It was an innings worthy of a century before D’Oliveira was caught off a top edge pull at mid on from the bowling of Paul van Meekeren.

He received excellent support today from Baker who achieved his career best score of 75 and featured in an eighth wicket partnership of 141 with D’Oliveira.

It surpassed the previous best of 124 between Steve Rhodes and Stuart Lampitt at Bristol in 1997.

Baker went past his unbeaten 61 not out against Middlesex at Lord’s in September 2021.

With Adam Finch (33 not out) and Pennington (26) adding a useful 34 for the last wicket, Worcestershire were able to reflect on a splendid recovery from 18-3, 99-5 and 182-7.

Gareth Roderick, Adam Hose and Matthew Waite had also played important roles on the opening day after Worcestershire had been put into bat.

Worcestershire resumed today on 265-7 after rain had halted play at tea on the opening day with D’Oliveira 53 not out and Baker unbeaten on 40.

Baker completed his half century from 103 balls when he cover drove Tom Price for his fourth boundary which also brought up the century partnership.

He square cut Paul van Meekeren for six while at the other end D’Oliveira continued to accumulate effectively.

The stand was finally broken when Baker attempted to hook van Meekeren  and top edged a catch to keeper James Bracey.

His 135 ball innings included one six and seven fours.

Finch has made several crucial contributions with the bat in recent games and again looked in good touch in adding 49 with D’Oliveira.

He produced one of the shots of the day in hoisting Zaman Akhtar for a massive six backward of square.

D’Oliveira’s fine four-and-a-half-hour innings came when he was within 10 runs of his hundred.

He was a caught off a top edged pull against van Meereken which was taken at mid on.

Twenty eight runs were still needed for a fourth batting point when Pennington joined Finch in the middle.

But Pennington raced to 26 from 20 balls to bring up the 400 before he became v an Meereken’s fourth scalp – also at mid on – to leave Finch undefeated on 33 and equalling his career best score against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge last summer.

Pennington then made the first breakthrough with the ball when Gloucestershire launched their reply when he had Chris Dent (8) caught behind by Roderick.

Gloucestershire opener Joe Phillips, who played T20 cricket for Cornwall alongside Jake Libby earlier this summer, had his off stump knocked out of the ground in Finch’s first over when on 24 but it was called a no ball.

Phillips went onto dominate a second wicket stand of exactly 100 with Ollie Price and had made 80 before Leach returned to pick up three wickets in quick succession.

The last ball before tea accounted for Phillips (80) who jabbed at a delivery and edged to Baker at first slip.

Leach had more joy on the resumption when Miles Hammond (0) pushed forward and Hose snapped up the chance low down at second slip.

James Bracey (1) then drove loosely at Leach and provided Roderick with another catch at 120-4.

It continued the trend of wickets falling in clusters during the game but then the two Prices, Tom and Ollie, batted through the remainder of the day.