Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

IMPRESSIVE COUNTY STEP UP QUALIFICATION BID WITH 15 POINT HAUL

Impressive Worcestershire maintained their compelling push to qualify from the group stages of the Bob Willis Trophy by claiming 15 points after dominating the drawn encounter with Glamorgan at Blackfinch New Road.

Second-placed Worcestershire followed up their victory over Gloucestershire at Bristol with another excellent performance over the four days in the sweltering conditions, and they pushed hard for the win throughout a tense final afternoon.

It earned them five batting bonus points, two bowling bonus points plus eight for a share of the spoils and they are just three points behind leaders Somerset who have to visit Blackfinch New Road.

Worcestershire opener Daryl Mitchell struck an impressive 94, and there were also useful contributions from Tom Fell, first-innings century-maker Brett D’Oliveira, Jack Haynes and Ben Cox before the home side declared on 276-6 and set Glamorgan a 358 target in 51 overs.

They were then given a mighty scare by Worcestershire Club Captain Joe Leach and Dillon Pennington who picked up three wickets inside the first four overs with the new ball.

Glamorgan were left hanging on with their captain Chris Cooke making a crucial 74, but they could never afford to relax as Worcestershire exerted constant pressure before closing on 141-7.

There were many positives for Head Coach Alex Gidman to reflect on as Worcestershire, in a similar fashion to at Bristol, overcame early challenges to gain control for much of the remainder of the game.

Jake Libby, with his first century for the club, and Brett D’Oliveira scored excellent first innings hundreds while Mitchell looked in good touch when they batted for a second time.

Leach produced a deadly burst with the ball for the second successive game – and six wickets in total – and it was encouraging to see Ed Barnard amongst the wickets after bowling with no reward against Gloucestershire.

Dillon Pennington also deserved more than his one first innings wicket after some spells of sustained aggression, and he was deservedly rewarded when Glamorgan batted this afternoon. At the same time, Libby also showed his potential as a spinner.

Worcestershire began the final day on 98-2, 179 runs ahead, and Mitchell completed his half-century – from 106 balls with seven fours – with a clip for two off his legs in the first over of the day from Michael Hogan.

New batsman Fell was quickly into his stride with successive boundaries off Hogan via a pull and an on drive.

The 50 stand between Mitchell and Fell came up in only 12 overs.

Timm van der Gugten replaced Hogan after a six-over spell to leave him still waiting for his 600th wicket in first-class cricket.

Mitchell moved into the 80s with a cut for four off van der Gugten as the third wicket pair continued to flourish.

The stand was worth 85 in 21 overs when van der Gugten made the first breakthrough of the day.

Fell, after making an accomplished 36, tried to work away a legside delivery and feathered a low catch to keeper and captain Chris Cooke.

Mitchell had looked set to complete his sixth first-class ton against Glamorgan – and his 38th for Worcestershire – after moving effortlessly onto 94.

But the opener came down the wicket to Kieran Bull and was stumped by Cooke. He struck ten fours, facing 163 balls.

A single by first innings century-maker Brett D’Oliveira off Bull extended the Worcestershire lead to the 300 mark.

Worcestershire opted to bat on after lunch and D’Oliveira (22) and Riki Wessels (0) were both caught behind in the same over from Graham Wagg.

Haynes (30 not out) and Cox (33 not out) produced some powerful strokes in lifting the total to 276-6 from 71 overs before the declaration.

Leach took the new ball and his second delivery trapped Nick Selman lbw for a duck, and he then accounted for Charlie Hemphrey (1) in the same fashion after offering no stroke.

In between Pennington removed Kiran Carlson (2) after he aimed to work the ball on the leg side but edged a catch through to Cox.

Root and Cooke saw Glamorgan through to 57-3 at tea.

There was the first view either side of the interval in a Worcestershire shirt of Libby as a bowler, and he caused problems with his spin and obtained some turn.

Pennington returned and broke the Root-Cooke stand after it had added 82 when the former on 34 was caught down by the legside by Cox.

Tom Cullen (17) was lbw to Charlie Morris and, with ten overs left, Dan Douthwaite (0) also departed leg before to a delivery of full length to give Libby his first wicket for Worcestershire.

Libby struck again with the prized wicket of Cooke who pushed half forward only for the ball to roll back onto his stumps.

However, Glamorgan were able to see out the last couple of overs to secure the draw.