Thursday, April 13th, 2023


Joe Leach claimed his 400th first class wicket for Worcestershire after Ben Gibbon did most of the damage with the ball on the opening day of the LV=Insurance County Championship encounter with Durham at the Seat Unique Riverside. 

Leach’s milestone was reached late in the day with the second new ball when Graham Clark nicked a delivery through to keeper Gareth Roderick. 

It was a proud moment for the long-serving all-rounder as Worcestershire initially made full use of the second new ball with three wickets in the space of seven balls. 

But Leach would be the first to acknowledge the fine contribution of Gibbon as Durham closed on 363-7 from 96 overs. 

Gibbon produced a series of probing and accurate spells and was rewarded with four wickets – including two in a double wicket maiden with the second new ball. 

He ended the day with figures of 22-5-75-4 – his third four wicket haul to date for Worcestershire. 

Adam Finch (2-70 from 17 overs) marked his first Championship appearance for 11 months since the away fixture against Derbyshire last May with two wickets.  

In particular, he produced a probing spell on either side of lunch and provided a searching examination for the Durham batters during that time. 

Worcestershire made two changes from the side which triumphed against Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground, with Finch and Dillon Pennington replacing Josh Tongue and Adam Hose. 

Brett D’Oliveira put Durham into bat and, after a 15-minute delay for rain, Leach and Pennington shared the new ball. 

Durham openers Alex Lees and Michael Jones scored freely, and 48 came off the opening ten overs.  

Finch and Gibbon came into the attack and started to exert pressure with some tight bowling. 

Finch was rewarded when Jones (25) played at a ball which nipped away, and keeper Gareth Roderick snapped up the chance. 

Scott Borthwick was given a testing time by Finch, surviving an lbw shout and being squared up on more than one occasion. 

Finch then came around the wicket and beat the forward push of Lees and found a really good rhythm. 

Durham reached lunch on 79-1 when Finch had figures of 6-2-8-1, and he continued to ask questions during the afternoon session. 

Lees was fortunate to top edge a bouncer to the fine leg boundary before Finch gained a second wicket. 

Borthwick (13) went to pull a delivery on the leg side but only found a leading edge, and Finch reacted quickly and dived forward in his follow on to take the return catch. 

Finch was given a breather after a spell of 10-3-23-2. 

Lees completed a 129-ball half-century and had moved on to 70 when Gibbon gained a deserved success. 

He was beaten all ends up by a delivery which nipped back in, and the middle stump went flying out of the ground at 165-3 in the 44th over. 

David Bedingham looked in good touch and brought up his fifty from 52 balls. 

But there was more joy for Gibbon when Ollie Robinson (15) went for a drive and provided Roderick with his second catch. 

Bedingham survived a sharp chance when on 60 off Leach as Durham reached 207-4 by tea and Gibbon’s afternoon spell produced figures of 8-1-31-2. 

Durham’s fifth wicket pair of Bedingham and Graham Clark accelerated during the first part of the final session, with Bedingham reaching three figures off 113 deliveries. 

The second new ball was due when the players left the field for a short rain break, but when they returned Gibbon broke through with the first ball of his spell. 

Bedingham (118) aimed a blow on the leg side and was plumb lbw to the left armer. 

There was more reward for Gibbon with the last ball of the over as Jonathan Bushnell (0) reached for a widish delivery and was caught by Jake Libby at backward point. 

Leach’s milestone was reached with the wicket of Clark in the next over, and he wheeled away in delight to celebrate with his team-mates. 

Ben Raine and Paul Coughlin joined forces at 308-7 and added a further 55 without being parted by the close. 

*Worcestershire Seconds opening Championship match of the season against Yorkshire at Bradford Park Avenue was abandoned as a draw after the final two days were washed out. 

Just 4.1 overs were possible on the first day, and the only lengthy spell of cricket took place on day two when Worcestershire reached 113-6. 

Opener Rehaan Edavalath top-scored with 35 from 78 balls with three fours, and Henry Cullen made 25 not out.