Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Ton-Up Hero Joe Hails “tremendous Win” As Worcs Climb Into Third Spot

Ton-Up Hero Joe Hails “tremendous Win” As Worcs Climb Into Third Spot

Century-maker Joe Clarke hailed "a tremendous win" as Worcestershire chased down a 366 target against Leicestershire at New Road to move into the top three of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two table.

Clarke scored a superb 123 – his third Championship hundred of the summer – as the County reached their target with 10 balls to spare.

It moved them to within 22 points of leaders Essex and they are only four points behind second placed Kent and with a game in hand.

Now Clarke is hoping Worcestershire can take the momentum from their three wicket success into the fixtures ahead – starting with Friday's Natwest T20 Blast clash with Lancashire at New Road.

Clarke said: "It was a great win. From the position we were in this morning, you'd think they had the upper hand and were ahead of the game.

"But it just shows the depth we have in our team. We've pulled through and we've got a win.

"I don't think many of us would have expected it coming into this morning. They had the upper hand.

"But certainly when they declared, we knew it was chaseable and if the batters got in, then we could knock it off.

"Looking at it, we knew the wicket was good but it had a couple of 'balls' in it and I just think it was a case of two lads getting in and getting big partnerships.

"We knew we had to take it deep and someone had to get a hundred which obviously happened and the partnerships with Rossco (Whiteley) and Leachy have proved match winning really."

Clarke joined forces with Whiteley at 73-4 and the England Lions duo added 142 in 34 overs.

Clarke said: "It was a long way away and you do have little doubts in your head but myself and Rossco are quite positive players and we remained positive throughout that partnership and that was key really.

"We spoke out in the middle that we needed to be positive and pounce on the bad balls and that's what we did and Rossco played a tremedous innings for someone who has struggled this year in the red ball stuff.

"He has come out and showed what sort of player he is and he strikes the ball tremendously.

"That got us to a period where we could kick on and go again and Leachy did the same and it was good for me to watch."

Clarke was given out lbw on 31 by Jeremy Lloyds who then consulted with fellow umpire Graham Lloyd and recalled the 20-year-old to the middle.

He said: "I hit it and was given out and I was very disappointed about it but the crowd said 'go back, go back' and the lads on the balcony said the same.

"I could hear Jeremy (Lloyds) calling my name and I thought he wanted to tell me off so I didn't really want to look back.

"But he said he asked Bumble (Lloyd) at square leg if he had made the right decision and he said 'no, he has hit it' and he was happy to bring me back which was fortunate really."

Clarke said the ability Worcestershire possess all down the order meant they were intending to pursue the target.

He said: "You can't look for draws. We've had too many draws this year and if you get an opportunity to chase 300 plus in that many overs, you've got to take it.

"At 70-4, everyone looking on thinks it is a bit of a task but we know the ability we've got down the order.

"You've got Ed Barnard coming in at number nine who has batted four-five for England Under-19s. He is a proper player.

"You know you've got that depth to knock those scores off and it is good going forward. It is a tremendous win."

As regards being in the Championship race, Clarke said: "We said at the start of the season that's where we wanted to be and this win has really kicked us and hopefully it gives us a bit of momentum after a couple of disappointing results in the T20 Bast.

"Hopefully we can go into Friday (against Lancashire) and Saturday (against Notts) and the Championship match on Sunday at Northampton with a bit of this momentum.

"Hopefully we can get a few wins out of it and get right up at the top. "I think that's where we belong as a unit and we definitely want to be challenging for that top spot."