Friday, April 5th, 2024


Kashif Ali scored his maiden first class century as Worcestershire enjoyed a productive first day of the season on their return to Division One of the Vitality County Championship against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

Kashif justified his promotion into the number three position as he reached three figures off 171 balls with two sixes and 10 fours.

He brought up his hundred in the grand manner with a towering six off spinner Danny Briggs over long on.

The 26-year-old, who recently signed a new four-year contract at New Road, was hugged by Club Captain, Brett D’Oliveira, and received a standing ovation from his team-mates on the dressing room balcony.

It was another memorable knock from Kashif who became the first product of the South Asian Cricket Academy to score a first class hundred, after coming so close to that milestone with his 93 in the final match of last season against Yorkshire at Headingley.

But he will be the first to recognise that an excellent all-round team effort was responsible for Worcestershire reaching 316-7 and two batting bonus points after being put into bat.

Gareth Roderick (68) continued last summer’s excellent form in sharing in partnerships of 77 with Jake Libby (38) and 103 with Kashif who then added a further 55 with Rob Jones (26) before Matthew Waite (37) provided aggression late in the day.

It was a proud day for Worcestershire Jones (number 539) Jason Holder (540) and Nathan Smith (541) who received their County colours (caps) before the start of play.

Warwickshire’s new captain, Alex Davies, put Worcestershire into bat after winning the toss in the first of four Championship games for each side this summer using a Kookaburra ball.

But Libby and Roderick seized the initiative with the kind of positive approach which was evident in their partnerships last summer.

Roderick despatched the very first delivery of the game from Oliver Hannon-Dalby off his legs to the boundary.

It sent the tone for an opening session which yielded 123 runs from 30 overs for the loss of only one wicket.

There was one slice of good fortune when Libby on 19 was dropped at second slip off Chris Rushworth.

But otherwise both batters scored freely and the half century stand came up in just 10.1 overs.

The partnership was worth 77 when Libby on 38 attempted to pull Michael Booth and was pouched at deep mid wicket.

Kashif came to the wicket in the number three role which he had occupied just once previously in first class cricket for Worcestershire, when making 39 against Glamorgan at New Road last summer.

He immediately looked in good touch and brought up the hundred with a back foot cover drive for four off Will Rhodes and then cut the same bowler over gulley for another boundary in the same over.

By lunch Roderick had moved onto 46 from 80 balls with six fours and Kashif 33 off 50 deliveries with five boundaries.

The second wicket pair got their heads down after lunch in the face of some accurate bowling from Rushworth and former Worcestershire all-rounder, Ed Barnard.

The first hour of the afternoon session produced 23 runs from 15 overs in murky light which led to the floodlights being switched on.

But most importantly Roderick and Kashif continued to occupy the crease and lay the foundations for their side as the Kookaburra ball became softer and harder to score from.

Roderick clipped Rushworth for two off his legs to complete a 112 ball fifty with six fours.

Kashif reached the same milestone in 20 balls fewer when cutting Hannon-Dalby for his seventh boundary.

He then upper cut Booth backward of square for six and in the same over the century stand with Roderick was brought up from 227 balls.

Roderick moved onto an accomplished 68 before his excellent knock came to an end when he edged a delivery of extra bounce from Rhodes to first slip with Worcestershire 180-2.

His 163 ball innings included seven fours and, after a short rain break, tea was taken with Worcestershire on 183-2.

Jones was soon into his stride with successive boundaries off Rushworth via a flick off his legs and a cut backward of square.

Kashif moved into the 90s with a fine cut at the expense of Briggs who then had Jones (26) caught behind down the legside to end a partnership of 55 in 19 overs.

Adam Hose (2) fell at slip off the bowling of Barnard after pushing forward before Kashif’s moment to remember when he reached three figures.

The first batting point batting was secured in the 77th over.

Kashif’s fine knock ended at 110 when Barnard produced a stunning one handed catch at cover off Hannon-Dalby and then D’Oliveira (19) was caught behind off Rushworth.

But Waite kept the scoreboard moving at a good rate, and collected three boundaries in a Rushworth over, until he tried to cut Rhodes and feathered through to the keeper.