Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Rhodes Salutes “special Innings” From Ton-Up Joe

Rhodes Salutes “special Innings” From Ton-Up Joe

Worcestershire Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes paid a glowing tribute to a "special innings" from century-maker Joe Clarke and said it was "one of the best I have seen here."

Clarke hit an unbeaten 124 from 53 balls – his first T20 ton – as the Rapids defeated Durham Jets by eight wickets, reaching a 202 target with 11 balls to spare at New Road this afternoon.

It followed on from his other impressive scores as a newly converted opener in T20 cricket including half centuries against Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

Paul Collingwood had also scored a hundred for the Jets – his maiden three figure score in T20.

Rhodes said: "It was an excellent wicket. I can't remember two centuries in the same T20 match and what an unbelievable innings from Joe Clarke.

"He has been in very good touch lately and showed that once again today and carried that on.

"That is a really special innings, one of the best I have seen here at Worcester, certainly in the T20 competition.

"It is quite tough, you think that (201) is a huge score but we knocked it off in eighteen and a half overs.

"It is crazy cricket but testament to Joe Clarke and the way he played. "He thoroughly deserved the man of the match. There couldn't be anyone else even though Colly had a great game himself for Durham.

"Colly (Paul Collingwood) is a wonderful player, as a youngster, in his mid career and now at the end of his career and it was a great innings."

Clarke had also been in excellent form in the Specsavers County Championship prior to the break for the T20 Blast and Rhodes thinks it will not be long before he returns to the international set-up – with the Lions or even higher.

He said: "Joe has got a massive career ahead of him and he's had some ups and downs in the Lions lately but is now starting to put in performances that certainly I know people are taking notice of.

"He is desperate to do well and get into that England set-up again, whether it be Lions or the (full) international side and, if he keeps playing like that, I'm sure they will come knocking."

On chasing down such a formidable total, Rhodes said: "We chased 230 at Headingley and we gave it a good crack and the message was the same.

"We were going to go out there, be positive. We were going to try and get 70 off that first powerplay.

"We were just under that but not many wickets down and that was crucial. We still had plenty of men in the tent and that was crucial.

"But we still had to keep the momentum up and it was a wonderful partnership between Ben Cox (43) and Joe and thankfully they kept hitting the ball so cleanly.

"The ball kept flying today and Tim Packwood deserves a lot of credit for a wonderful wicket."

John Hastings also contributed a quickfire 24 in an opening stand of 65 with Clarke to help give the innings instant momentum.

Rhodes said: "If you look at our last two opponents, Rossington and Levi, they come at you very hard and make life very difficult, and also the one before when Hales and Wessels did the same at Nottingham.

"It is not easy when the openers are certainly dashers who can hit the ball very cleanly and we decided to change it a little bit for this game anyway.

"It wasn't just because of the half-time score, it was always going to be John opening the batting with Clarkey."

Rhodes also praised the superb bowling of Brett D'Oliveira who finished with 1-16 from his four overs.

He said: "I thought what Brett did was he mixed it up really well today. It was difficult to read in the sense of where he was going to pitch the ball and at what pace.

"I thought he varied his pace well and he varied his lengths well and made life a bit difficult for the Durham batsmen and to only go for 16 runs in a score of over 200 is a great effort."