Worcestershire returned to First Class cricket with the visit of Hampshire to New Road for a LV= County Championship Division 1 match. Daryl Mitchell returned from his absence due to injury to partner Matt Pardoe in the top of the innings, replacing James Cameron. With Damien Wright returned home the overseas place was taken by Shakib Al-Hasan. The Hampshire team contained former Worcestershire player Kabir Ali, making a welcome return to New Road.
There was a scheduled delay to the first day's play as both sides had late finishing t20 matches the night before. Daryl Mitchell won the toss for the home side and elected to bat first in heavy overcast conditions, with the threat of rain showers. The start of play was delayed for half an hour after the toss due to rain. In the 24 overs possible in the morning session the home side made a solid start reaching 75-1. The only wicket to fall was that of Matt Pardoe, trapped LBW for 11 by Dimitri Mascarenhas, who looked the most dangerous of the Hampshire bowlers throughout the day.
Only two balls were possible after lunch before another shower caused the players to leave the pitch. The afternoon session only lasted 13 overs before early tea was taken after yet another rain delay. At tea Worcestershire had reached 133-1 with Mitchell and Vikram Solanki looking well set at the wicket, just short of the 100 partnership and both looking to register a big score.
The partnership was broken in the second over after the resumption after tea, just as the partnership reached the century mark with Mitchell giving a simple catch to Dominic Cork at point for 60, his highest score of the season so far, off the bowling of Imran Tahir. Mascarenhas picked up his second wicket shortly afterwards with Moeen Ali edging a catch to Nic Pothas for 1 to leave the home side on 142-3. The final session also contained a break for rain which saw a total of 26 overs lost from the days play.
Solanki looked in majestic form all innings, with some classic cover drives. He finished the day just short of a well deserved century on 99, after completing a 4th wicket stand of 108 in just under 27 overs with Alexei Kervezee. It was Solanki's fourth consecutive 50 in First Class cricket this season. Kervezee scored 55 in another bold, dominant innings lasting 74 deliveries with 9 boundaries but perhaps would have been disappointed to be dismissed in the last over of the day to a simple catch to James Vince off the bowling of Liam Dawson.
Worcestershire still finished the day in a strong position, and weather permitting will hope to increase their advantage on the second day.
Close of Play Day 1: Worcestershire 250-4.
Worcestershire finished the 2nd day of the LV= County Championship match at New Road against Hampshire in a strong position thanks mainly to star performances by Vikram Solanki and Alan Richardson.
Solanki who was 99* overnight completed his 28th First Class century with the first ball he faced on the second day. Solanki looked in majestic form, completing his third century partnership of the innings, this time with Shakib Al-Hasan who made 54 before being caught in the slips by Jimmy Adams off the bowling of Dominic Cork with the new ball.
Cork picked up the only other wicket of the morning session, again to a slip catch, this time to Neil McKenzie dismissing Gareth Andrew. Worcestershire reached the lunch break on 377-6 with Solanki on 163*.
Shortly after lunch Worcestershire earned their maximum batting points when they passed 400, Solanki was out soon after for 173 at which point Worcestershire declared on 403-8. Solanki's innings lasted for 272 deliveries and contained 26 boundaries.
Hampshire lost a wicket in the first over of their reply with Liam Dawson caught by Ben Scott giving Alan Richardson his 400th career First Class wicket. Richardson took 1-34 in his first nine over spell as Hampshire reached the tea interval on 100-2. The only other wicket to fall in the session was in Gareth Andrew's first over where he trapped Michael Lumb LBW for 6.
After tea the rested Richardson came back for his second spell and took two vital wickets, both clean bowled. The first was Adams who had made 52 before playing a ball onto his stumps and in Richardson's very next over McKenzie was bowled for 37. From 115-4 the visitors staged a recovery with a 5th wicket partnership between James Vince and Nic Pothas. Richardson finished the day with figures of 3-52 from 15 overs.
The partnership between Vince and Pothas was worth 95 before Jack Shantry made the break through bowling Vince for 50. After a period where the Worcestershire bowlers did not keep up the pressure on Hampshire during the final session they came back well late in the session. After an indifferent spell bowling at the New Road end, Shakib Al-Hasan came back at the the Diglis end and picked up two wickets in two overs, both to slip catches to Daryl Mitchell. Dimitri Mascarenhas was the first to go for 7 to be replaced by a night watchman which did not prevent Hampshire losing the key wicket of Nic Pothas who was looking in a dangerous mood, dominating the bowling at times before being dismissed for 60. Hampshire closed the day on 232-7 still 21 runs behind the follow on target.
Close of Play Day 2: Worcestershire 403-8. Hampshire 232-7.
Worcestershire required just seven overs on the third day of their LV= County Championship match at New Road to take the three remaining Hampshire 1st innings wickets, with Shakib Al-Hasan picking up two and Alan Richardson one. Hampshire added seven runs to their overnight score to reach 239 all out, still 164 runs behind Worcestershire's 1st innings total. Richardson finished with figures of 4-56 and Al-Hasan 4-42.
With the bowlers still fresh the follow on was enforced. Richardson continued his fine form in this match removing both Hampshire openers within the first nine overs of the innings with Jimmy Adams caught low down at 2nd slip by Daryl Mitchell for 1 and Liam Dawson caught by Ben Scott for 19. The new ball was shared with Jack Shantry who picked up two wickets in the 14th over, both caught off edges to the slips. Michael Lumb was caught by Vikram Solanki for 11 and three balls later James Vince edged a catch to Mitchell for 4. This left Hampshire on 40-4 at one stage but a steady partnership between Nic Pothas and Neil McKenzie saw the visitors safely to lunch on 74-4.
The afternoon session belonged to the visitors with both Pothas and McKenzie looking very settled at the crease in a 5th wicket partnership which ensured that Worcestershire would have to bat again. Both batsman passed their half centuries during the session which saw them take the score to 183-4 by tea.
The 5th wicket partnership of 143 runs was broken with the very first ball after the resumption after tea with Pothas edging a catch to Mitchell off Richardson for 72, after an innings lasting 128 balls, it was his second half century of the match. While McKenzie was resolute at one end Worcestershire continued to take wickets, with Al-Hasan particularly effective with the older ball. It was Richardson who brought McKenzie's innings to an end shortly after the new ball was taken, trapping him LBW for 106, giving Richardson his 5th wicket of the innings. McKenzie's well deserved century at least ensured that Worcestershire had to bat again. By the close of play Hampshire had reached 269-9.
Close of Play Day 3: Worcestershire 403-8 dec. Hampshire 239 & 269-9.
Worcestershire took two balls to take the final Hampshire wicket on the final day of the LV= County Championship at New Road. Imran Tahir returned a simple caught and bowled chance to Shakib Al-Hasan with no addition to the overnight score of 269. This gave Al-Hasan figures of 3-85 for the innings. The wicket prevented Alan Richardson the chance of recording a 10 wicket match and he had to settle for match figures of 9-114.
This gave the home county a target of 106 runs to win with a minimum of 93 overs left in the day. Openers Daryl Mitchell and Matt Pardoe made a solid start, knowing they did not have to take too many risks but with one eye on the weather. The openers made 62 before Pardoe was caught at short leg by James Adams for 19.
Skipper Daryl Mitchell reached his second half century of the match, to go with his six slip catches, as the home side reached their target with no further loss of wickets just before lunch in just under 25 overs. Mitchell was unbeaten 57, after cutting loose at the end of his innings with a total of 8 boundaries in his innings, including the winning runs. Worcestershire won by 9 wickets, and scored maximum points, to record their first ever back to back victories in Division 1 of the Championship.
Result: Worcestershire (403-8 dec. & 108-1) beat Hampshire (239 & 269) by 9 wickets.
Worcestershire 24 points. Hampshire 3 points.