Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Super Worcs Seal Division Two Title After Ashwin Five Wicket Haul

Worcestershire CCC put the icing on the cake to a memorable season as they followed up sealing promotion 24 hours earlier by clinching the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title.

Skipper Joe Leach’s side clocked up their ninth win in 14 games as they overpowered Durham by 137 runs at New Road – the first Championship win over their opponents for 14 years.

Durham were set a target of 370 in 76 overs and were bowled out for 232 with 19.4 overs remaining.

Ravichandran Ashwin ended his current spell at New Road with figures of 5-95.

Victory rendered events irrelevant at Hove where Nottinghamshire, the only side who could overhaul Worcestershire going into the final day of the season, fought out a tame draw with Sussex.

It was fitting that the final day of the season featured strong contributions from two of Worcestershire’s outstanding performers this summer in Daryl Mitchell and Leach.

Mitchell scored his seventh Championship century of the season – a tally only bettered by Surrey’s Kumar Sangakkara – and ended the campaign with 1266 runs at an average of 55.04.

Then Leach took his Championship wicket tally to 69 -the highest tally in Division Two – with an early double strike to set his side on their way to victory.

But it has been the ultimate team effort which has seen Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes’s side across the finishing line in the four-day format.

Joe Clarke, Brett D’Oliveira, Ben Cox and Ed Barnard have also made sizeable contributions with the bat while paceman Josh Tongue and Barnard have both weighed in with 40 plus wickets apiece in support of Leach.

The contribution of Ashwin on and off the field should also not be under-estimated in helping to restore belief for the final four games after a mid-season blip in the T20 Blast.

Mitchell helped to set up the declaration after Worcestershire resumed on 157-3.

He reached three figures off 134 balls with nine fours and ended undefeated on 123 out of 242-3.

Mitchell was given excellent support by George Rhodes (51 not out) in an unbroken stand of 111 in 24 overs.

Leach got to work with the ball and trapped Cameron Steel (5) and Jack Burnham (11) both lbw before lunch.

Then Ashwin had Keaton Jennings (20) – in his final innings for Durham – pouched by Mitchell at slip.

Graham Clark and Paul Collingwood provided staunch resistance in a stand of 88 in 20 overs.

But then wickets starting to fall in quick succession.

Ed Barnard removed Collingwood (36) and Clark (62) – both leg before – in successive overs and Ashwin returned to dispose of Ryan Pringle who was caught off a top edge at square leg.

By tea Durham had moved onto 148-6 with 33 overs remaining.

The end came quickly after the interval.

Leach bowled Michael Richardson (17) and Ashwin removed Liam Trevaskis (9) and Chris Rushworth (0) with successive deliveries.

Then the Indian star had last man Graham Onions (15) caught at cover to spark wild scenes of celebration.