Worcestershire travelled to Blackpool to face top of the table Lancashire in their latest LV= County Championship Division 1 fixture. With the early return home of Saeed Ajmal Worcestershire went into the game with no overseas player. Richard Jones came into the side in the place of Jack Shantry with Shaaiq Choudhry also included in the team.
Worcestershire won the toss and elected to bowl first at a ground that has a history of producing fast wickets. With a bit of seam and swing movement early on the Lancashire opening batsmen were watchful and the run rate was kept low. Jones picked up a wicket in both of his spells in the first session. Paul Horton look liked he had played himself in and was comfortable but was dismissed just before lunch for 47 by a sharp low catch at slip by Daryl Mitchell off the bowling of Moeen Ali. The home side reached the lunch interval on 97-4.
Steven Croft, playing at his home town ground dominated the afternoon session with a fine innings of 107 of 111 deliveries. He shared a 5th wicket stand of 87 with Farveez Maharoof (29) and a 6th wicket stand of 90 with Gareth Cross (39) as Lancashire upped the run rate to over 4 runs per over. Croft should have dismissed on 33 to a regulation catch at long leg but the substitute fielder lost the ball in the sun and the ball dropped safely to the boundary, much to the delight of the home side. Aneesh Kapil picked up the key wicket of Croft just before the tea interval, once again to a slip catch to Daryl Mitchell. By tea Lancashire had reached 267-6.
The evening session proved to be eventful for both sides with nine wickets falling in the space of 16 overs in just over an hours play. After the resumption after tea it only took Worcestershire just under six overs to take the remaining Lancashire wickets as they were bowled out for 282. Gareth Andrew's spell after tea was 3-3 in 2.5 overs with Kapil picking up the other wicket to fall to finish on 2-38. Andrew finished with figures of 3-47 and Jones 3-62.
Lancashire produced a fine display of new ball bowling which with swing and seam movement that tore out the Worcestershire top order in under 12 overs as they slumped to 21-5. Glen Chapple took 3-26 and Kyle Hogg 2-9 with the new ball. Three of the wickets fell to slip catches, one to a LBW, Mitchell was perhaps a bit unlucky to be bowled of an outside edge for 5 after lasting for 41 testing deliveries.
Andrew (28*) and Kapil (24*) then steered the visitors to the close with an unbeaten 6th wicket partnership of 56 to help Worcestershire reach 77-5 by the close of play.
Close of Play Day 1. Lancashire 282. Worcestershire 77-5.
Worcestershire fought back well on the second day of the LV= County Championship match against Lancashire at Blackpool but the home side ended the day still in a strong position in the match.
Worcestershire lost their 6th wicket in the first over of the day when Aneesh Kapil edged a catch to keeper Gareth Cross for 24 off the bowling of Glen Chapple. Ben Scott led the fight back for Worcestershire with a battling innings starting with a 7th wicket stand of 67 with Gareth Andrew.
Andrew was the second wicket to fall in the day to a low diving catch at gully by Steven Croft off the bowling of Farveez Maharoof for a hard fought 61 off 94 deliveries. Sajid Mahmood cleaned up the Worcestershire tail either side of the lunch interval taking the last three wickets. Ben Scott was left unbeaten on 65* and helped guide Worcestershire to 202 all out and earning and bonus batting point which may yet prove to be crucial at the end of the season. It was a good fight back by Worcestershire after being 21-5 at one stage in the innings. Chapple finished with figures of 4-47 and Mahmood 3-39 as the home side earnt a 80 run 1st innings lead.
The Lancashire openers Paul Horton and Stephen Moore extended the lead in the session leading up to the tea interval with another watchful partnership seeing off the new ball. The run rate increased in the overs leading up the interval after the cautious start. Moore had made 26 off 50 deliveries before he was caught in the gully by Kapil for 26 off the bowling of Shaaiq Choudhry on the stroke of tea.
In the evening session Andrew took two quick wickets to leave the home side on 77-3. Horton was well held at 1st slip by Vikram Solanki for 35 and Tom Smith was trapped LBW for 4. However an unbeaten 4th wicket stand of 90 between Croft (39*) and Karl Brown (55*) saw Lancashire to the close on 167-3, already with a healthy lead.
Close of Play Day 2. Lancashire (282 & 167-3) lead Worcestershire (202) by 247 runs with 7 second innings wickets remaining.
Worcestershire dragged themselves back into contention in the LV= County Championship match against Lancashire at Blackpool to set up an interesting final day. Resuming the day on 167-3 the home side hoped to increase their advantage and set Worcestershire a large total to chase. With the pitch still offering some help to the seam bowlers the Worcestershire attack were able to take advantage of the conditions and make life difficult for the home side in the morning session. Gareth Andrew opened the day's bowling and took the first wicket of the day trapping Steven Croft LBW for 50.
Bowling changes seemed to signal wickets with three wickets being taken within the first two balls of a bowling change with Richard Jones picking up two wickets and Aneesh Kapil one, in addition to the three Andrew took in the session as Lancashire were bowled out for 248. Karl Brown was last man out for 85 off 147 balls. Jones finished with figures of 3-70 but Andrew was the stand out performer with 5-59 from 19 overs.
This left Worcestershire with a target of 329 to win with 70 overs left on the third day. In the two overs left before lunch Worcestershire had reached 5-0. Worcestershire lost an early wicket straight after lunch to the new ball. Mindful of what happened in the first innings Daryl Mitchell and Vikram Solanki played a careful, watchful partnership which was worth 62 before Chapple picked up his second wicket trapping Mitchell LBW for 22.
Moeen Ali and Solanki guided Worcestershire to tea with the score on 116-2. Solanki looked in good touch and batted well in partnership with Moeen Ali in a 3rd wicket stand worth 91 either side of the tea interval. Gary Keedy bowled unchanged for 20 overs and found a bit of turn on the pitch, picking up three wickets to fall in the evening session. Moeen Ali was tempted forward into giving a sharp catch to Steven Croft at forward short leg for 47 off 91 deliveries. Alexei Kervezee was caught in the same manner after the ball deflected off the keeper's pads for 14.
The key wicket was that of Solanki who scored a magnificent 107 off 175 deliveries with 15 boundaries to set up the possibility of a victory run chase on the final day. Solanki was the final wicket to fall in the day with the score on 199-5 to a catch at 1st slip by Paul Horton.
Aneesh Kapil and Shaaiq Choudhry saw Worcestershire to the close of play with the score on 203-5. With a new ball only 10 overs away it will be a tough fight to score the 126 runs required but Worcestershire have given themselves a fighting chance of beating the leading team in the Championship.
Close of Play Day 3. Worcestershire (202 & 203-5) trail Lancashire (282 & 248) by 125 runs with 5 second innings wickets remaining.
It took less than 16 overs on the final day for Lancashire to take the remaining five Worcestershire wickets. Despite a spirited fight back to get themselves back into contention the target was a bit too much for Worcestershire.
The first wicket in the day went to Gary Keedy, who had Aneesh Kapil stumped by Gareth Cross for 7. However it was Tom Smith who did the real damage for Worcestershire with figures of 4-7 in 7.2 overs. The new ball was due during the session but was not required as Worcestershire were bowled out for 230. Smith trapped Ben Scott, who top scored in the first innings, LBW for 2 which just about sealed Worcestershire's fate. Gareth Andrew was left unbeaten on 14*.
The result puts Worcestershire back into the relegation places but only by one point and with a game in hand over the team above them.
Result: Worcestershire (202 & 230) lost to Lancashire (282 & 248) by 98 runs.
Lancashire 21 points. Worcestershire 4 points.