Sunday, July 31st, 2022


Worcestershire warmed up for their Royal London Cup campaign with a hard-fought four-wicket win over local rivals Herefordshire at Eastnor Cricket Club.

An unbroken partnership of 69 between Ben Cox and Joe Leach saw Worcestershire to victory with seven overs to spare in the climax to an excellent day of entertainment.

Rapids pace bowler Adam Finch picked up four wickets as Herefordshire, thanks mainly to the efforts of Dave Ball and Barney Morgan, recovered to post a challenging 192 all out on a slow pitch after being put into bat.

Batting was also not a straightforward exercise for Worcestershire, particularly against the Herefordshire new ball attack of James Rudge and Zain Ul-Hassan.

But Ed Barnard and Kashif Ali steadied the innings with a half-century stand before Cox and Leach completed the task.

Leach ended unbeaten on 40, and Cox was 27 not out.

Worcestershire will now turn their attention to Tuesday’s opening Royal London Cup match with Kent at New Road after an ideal test by their local rivals.

It was an enjoyable day with full credit to Herefordshire for their excellent organisation of this 50-over fixture.

Several hundred spectators took advantage of the warm weather at the picturesque tree-lined ground.

Worcestershire coaches, and those players not involved in the game, also took the opportunity to mingle and chat with supporters.

Overseas star Azhar Ali was also present despite not arriving back in England from Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka until yesterday evening.

He quickly reunited with his teammates and had a net in preparation for Tuesday’s Royal London Cup opener with Kent at New Road.

Vice-captain Jake Libby won the toss and put the home side into bat on a green-tinged pitch.

Leach took the new ball and struck in the first over when Taylor Cornall held onto a waist-high catch at second slip to dismiss Ben Chapman-Lilley.

Ben Gibbon also made an early breakthrough when Josh Dell picked out Barnard at backward point.

Former Worcestershire batter Matt Pardoe looked in good touch and picked up successive boundaries from on drive and cover drives.

But Finch and Barnard entered the attack and picked up four wickets for nine runs in the space of seven overs.

Finch had Pardoe taken by Kashif Ali at deep mid wicket and Nick Hammond’s hook was safely pouched by Gareth Roderick at deep square leg.

Henry Cullen was lbw to Barnard and Zain Ul Hassan was caught behind by Cox on his return to first team action.

Spin was introduced with Cornall and he won his lbw appeal against Roshan Venkataraman at 73-7.

But Ball and Morgan led an excellent Herefordshire recovery in more than doubling the score during an eighth wicket stand of 75.

Libby finally broke the stand when Ball (38) came down the wicket and fell to a head-high catch by Gibbon at wide long off.

Cox then produced a superb diving catch away to his right to end Morgan’s fine knock on 45 when Finch returned to the attack.

He wrapped up the innings when Olly Davidson found Ed Pollock at point to leave James Rudge undefeated on an aggressive 28.

Finch finished with figures of 9-2-29-4, Barnard 7-1-26-2, Leach 6-2-18-1, Gibbon 9-0-42-1, Libby 5-1-12-1 and Cornall 3-0-8-1.

Batting was also a challenge for Worcestershire on a slow pitch, and Ed Pollock (0) chopped on in Rudge’s first over.

Cornall (19) played some good strokes before he was caught at mid-wicket off Ul Hassan and Rudge struck for a second time when Roderick (16) found the hands of deep square leg.

Dave Ball bowled Libby (17), but Barnard and Kashif Ali played with fluency in adding 55 for the fifth wicket.

Kashif drilled Pardoe over long on for six, but the game was back in the balance again at 124-6 after two wickets fell in successive overs.

After making 29, Kashif was bowled by Venkataraman and then Barnard, with 35 off 36 balls, chopped on to give Ul Hassan a second scalp.

But then Leach and Cox joined forces to see Worcestershire to victory.