Club Captain Joe Leach’s dramatic late burst of wickets helped Worcestershire CCC to complete a superb all-round performance and defeat Gloucestershire by eight wickets in their opening Bob Willis Trophy match at Bristol.
Leach picked up four wickets in the space of 30 balls before tea on the final day to polish off the Gloucestershire second innings for 270 and leave Worcestershire a 110 target in 35 overs.
It followed on from the earlier efforts in the innings with the ball of Charlie Morris and Josh Tongue – and a vital breakthrough from bowler Daryl Mitchell – after Gloucestershire had conceded a first innings deficit of 161.
Mitchell and Jake Libby ensured there were no early scares when Worcestershire set off in pursuit of their target before Tom Fell and Jack Haynes played some superb strokes to complete victory with 8.5 overs to spare.
Fell finished unbeaten on 32 and Haynes, who stroked the winning boundary, 30 not out after an unbroken stand of 53 in 8.1 overs. Worcestershire earned 22 points, 16 for a win plus six bonus points.
Worcestershire bowled with great control and discipline throughout with Morris carrying on in impressive style from where he left off last season with match figures of 44.3-14-104-6 and Tongue bowling with pace and aggression to end with 41-8-139-6.
The batting line-up demonstrated a solidity throughout with Daryl Mitchell, debutant Jake Libby, Tom Fell, Jack Haynes, Brett D’Oliveira and Ben Cox, who kept wicket immaculately, all making sizeable contributions.
Mitchell also held onto a stunning slip catch and chipped in with a vital wicket today while D’Oliveira’s all-round qualities were also evident with his dismissal of Gloucestershire’s two leading first innings contributors in Chris Dent and Graeme van Buuren.
Gloucestershire resumed on 135-3 on a chilly and overcast morning with Morris, who yesterday evening picked up the key wicket of Chris Dent, and Ed Barnard sharing the attack.
Nighwatchman Josh Shaw had a stroke of good fortune when he inside-edged a Morris delivery to the boundary.
He opted for an attacking approach in making 21 with five boundaries before falling to Tongue who beat the defensive push and trapped him lbw with the total 163-4.
George Hankins completed a solid half century off 147 balls with six boundaries but it paid instant dividends for Club Captain Leach when he brought Mitchell into the attack. He struck in his first over when Ryan Higgins (6) missed a straight delivery which hit him on the back pad and he departed lbw.
Leach continued to rotate his bowlers and the action made for tense and gripping red ball cricket with Worcestershire probing for further breakthroughs and the home side trying to keep them at bay.
New batsman Jack Taylor was restricted to just three singles off 53 balls before lunch when Hankins was unbeaten on 68 out of 206-5.
At that juncture Leach had figures of 20-3-52-0, Morris 17-8-36-2, Tongue 13-3-42-2, Barnard 16-6-36-0, D’Oliveira 6-0-16-0 and Mitchell 9-4-7-1.
Tongue returned to the attack after the interval and collected the prized wicket of Hankins for 69.
His defiant knock was ended when he was lbw to a delivery of full length to provide Tongue with his third wicket of the innings.
Leach then mopped up the remainder of the innings in quickfire time to earn some deserved tangible reward for his efforts during the game.
Gareth Roderick, who is joining Worcestershire on a three year contract from November, was lbw for nine after offering no stroke and Gloucestershire debutant Tom Price also fell leg before for a duck.
Leach made it three wickets in three overs when Jack Taylor (23) edged to Daryl Mitchell at second slip and, after a last wicket stand of 31, David Payne (14) lost his leg stump to the same bowler.
Leach ended with second innings figures of 26.3-4-70-4, Morris 22-8-52-2, Tongue 20-5-64-3, Barnard 16-6-36-0, D’Oliveira 11-2-23-0 and Mitchell 9-4-7-1.
When Worcestershire batted for a second time, Mitchell and Jake Libby put on 41 in solid fashion before they departed in successive overs from Shaw. Mitchell (18) lost his off stump and Libby (25) was caught at point.
BATTING GLOUCESTERSHIRE SECOND INNINGS CONTINUED
Hankins lbw Tongue 69 (6-214)
Shaw lbw Tongue 21 (4-163)
Higgins lbw Mitchell 6 (5-183)
J. Taylor c Mitchell b Leach 23 (9-239)
Roderick lbw Leach 9 (7-234)
Price lbw Leach 0 (8-236)
Payne b Leach 14 (10-270)
Total (all out 270 in 104.3 overs)
WORCESTERSHIRE SECOND INNINGS
Mitchell b Shaw 20 (1-41)
Libby c Hammond b Shaw 25 (2-60)
Fell not out 32
Haynes not out 28
Total (for 2 wickets) 113 in 26.1 overs
M. Taylor 4-1-23-0
Van Buuren 3-0-13-0
J. Taylor 0.1-0-4-0