Worcestershire CCC bowlers struck back in spectacular fashion by claiming six wickets in the final session to take the honours on the opening day as first class cricket returned in the Bob Willis Trophy encounter with Gloucestershire at Bristol.
Paceman Charlie Morris was rewarded for some excellent bowling throughout the day with three wickets in the space of four overs.
Spinner Brett D’Oliveira also played a key role in dismissing Gloucestershire’s main run-scorers in Graeme van Buuren (60) and Chris Dent (92).
Josh Tongue collected two scalps and there was one for Club Captain, Joe Leach, as Worcestershire picked up six wickets for 38 runs in the space of 18 overs with Gloucestershire closing on 246-8 from 91 overs after being 205-2 at one stage.
Worcestershire will be looking to quickly wrap up the home side’s innings with the second new ball tomorrow morning.
Alan Richardson, Worcestershire Assistant Coach-Bowling Coach said: “We were really pleased by the end of the day. For the first two sessions Gloucestershire played really well, however we stuck at it and then got our rewards in that third session when I thought the boys applied themselves brilliantly.
“We haven’t been back playing cricket very long so to put in a shift like that in the third session when we could have easily wilted showed some great character and great skill.
“We just needed not to reinvent the wheel, just stick to the basics and hope the chances would come and the boys did that.
“From 205-2, that last session there was 73-6 so it has shown we’ve stuck at it and bowled well and if we can knock them over early, or at least keep them below 300, you’d think we have done a really good shift there.
“The pitch looks pretty good and the ball has carried through nicely and kept the slips interested.”
Before play today all 18 first-class counties held a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for those affected by COVID-19 following which players, staff and officials took the knee to promote inclusivity in cricket.
Gloucestershire opted to bat after winning the toss and Leach took the new ball and bowled a testing opening spell. Opener Miles Hammond got off the mark in fortunate fashion with an inside edge for two off Leach. Hammond on four then nicked another Leach delivery and survived a difficult chance to second slip.
Tongue made the first breakthrough when he bowled over the wicket to Hammond (14) who went for an expansive drive and inside-edged a chance which was snapped up by keeper Ben Cox.
New batsman van Buuren was fortunate on 19 when he edged the accurate Morris for four to bring up the fifty. Spin was introduced into the attack for the 23rd over via D’Oliveira. There was more good fortune for van Buuren on 27 when he top edged D’Oliveira and the ball fell in between the fielders in the mid-wicket region.
Gloucestershire reached lunch on 84-1 from 31 overs when the Worcestershire bowling figures were: Leach 8-2-24-0, Morris 9-4-11-0, Tongue 6-1-30-1, Barnard 5-3-11-0 and D’Oliveira 3-0-7-0.
Dent completed his half century with a single off Morris from 109 balls with six boundaries and shortly afterwards van Buuren reached the same milestone from 115 deliveries with seven fours.
But D’Oliveira returned to break the partnership after it had added 127 when van Buuren was tempted half-forward by a delivery given plenty of flight and was yorked.
Dent had moved onto 72 not out in a total of 173-2 from 62 overs at tea with Leach having figures of 15-4-41-0, Morris 14-4-27-0, Tongue 11-2-50-1, Barnard 12-4-27-0 and D’Oliveira 10-1-26-1.
There was more joy for D’Oliveira when Dent was bowled after being deceived by a delivery which came back in and went past the outside edge.
Morris gained some deserved tangible reward for plugging away and bowling a tight line all day as George Hankins (30) chopped the ball onto his stumps.
Only five more runs were added before Jack Taylor (0) pushed firmly at Tongue and was pouched by Riki Wessels at first slip with the total 233-5.
Morris then enjoyed a double success in the same over as Ryan Higgins (18) was beaten all ends up and bowled before debutant Tom Price’s tentative push forward led to the same mode of dismissal for a duck.
Leach returned to the attack and David Payne (1) fell victim to a good low catch by Cox.
Gloucestershire – first innings
Hammond c Cox b Tongue 14 (1-23 12th over)
Dent b D’Oliveira 92 (3-205 71st over)
Van Buuren b D’Oliveira 60 (2-150 51st over)
Hankins b Morris 30 (4-228 79th over)
Higgins lbw Morris 18 (6-239)
J. Taylor c Wessels b Tongue 0 (5-233)
Roderick not out 7
Price b Morris 0 (7-239 85th over)
Payne c Cox b Leach 1 (8-243 89th)
Shaw not out 3
Total (for 8 wickets) 246 in 91 overs
Worcestershire: Daryl Mitchell, Jake Libby, Tom Fell, Jack Haynes, Brett D’Oliveira, Riki Wessels, Ben Cox (wk), Ed Barnard, Joe Leach ©, Josh Tongue, Charlie Morris.