Alan Richardson was full of praise for Worcestershire CCC’s bowlers who stuck defiantly to their task on the opening day of the Bob Willis Trophy Central Group encounter with local rivals Warwickshire at Blackfinch New Road despite an unbeaten century from Will Rhodes.
The County attack bowled accurately and with great discipline in restricting their opponents to around two and a half runs per over throughout the day on a slow paced pitch.
Their efforts and patience were rewarded in the final session when two wickets fell in successive overs to help secure a first bowling bonus point.
Charlie Morris, Ed Barnard and Club Captain Joe Leach collected one wicket apiece while medium-pacer Daryl Mitchell bowled two extremely tight spells from the New Road End.
He conceded only 27 runs in 16 overs – the highest number of overs he has bowled in a first class innings at Blackfinch New Road.
With a second new ball due first thing tomorrow morning, Worcestershire will hope to make early inroads when Warwickshire resume on 228-3 with Rhodes unbeaten on 142.
Worcestershire Assistant Coach-Bowling Coach Richardson said: “The boys stuck to their task really well. We possibly could have picked up a couple more wickets but it was certainly a long day and the boys have toiled pretty hard.
“Will Rhodes has played magnificently well throughout the day and it would have been nice just to have picked him up there at mid on (off Daryl Mitchell).
“We’ve got to try and hold onto as many chances as we can because I think those opportunities are going to be at a premium at the moment in this game.
“Why did we put Warwickshire in? We thought it was going to do a little bit more. It had been under the covers for just over a day, there was a little bit of grass on it, and historically that wicket has done a little bit.”
“Daryl did a brilliant job in the context of the day. The 120 overs comes into the thinking a little, a bit of tactics about it. We’ve got 30 overs to go and the first objective will be to try and bowl them out and, if that not possible, to try and restrict them to as few a number of runs as possible.”
Worcestershire went into the game a point ahead of Somerset after two wins and a draw from their opening three matches and a series of impressive performances.
The side showed one changed from the line-up which triumphed at Northampton with Morris replacing fellow paceman Dillon Pennington.
Leach opted to bowl first and shared the new ball with Morris who made an early breakthrough.
Rob Yates (2) was squared up by a fine delivery which he nicked through to Riki Wessels at first slip with 13 on the board.
Rhodes and Sam Hain then dug in and defied the home side’s efforts during a partnership of 165 in 60 overs with the former completing a 181-ball century with 13 fours in the first over after tea.
But they were never able to score freely and the Worcestershire bowlers were backed up by some enthusiastic fielding.
Hain (55) eventually fell to Ed Barnard when he flicked at a legside delivery and keeper Ben Cox pulled off another fine one-handed catch.
There was more joy for Worcestershire in the next over when Ian Bell (1) drove at Leach and perished to a smart catch by Barnard at point at 179-3 in the 67th over.
Rhodes survived one chance to mid-on off Mitchell when on 123 as any hopes Warwickshire may have had of increasing the tempo were kept in check by the home attack.