Worcestershire returned to LV= County Championship Division 1 cricket with the visit of Somerset to New Road. Somerset came to New Road on the the back of a good last day victory against Durham with Worcestershire looking for the third home win of the season that would lift them out of the relegation places above Yorkshire.
After some good performances last season and this season in the 2nd team Jack Manuel was rewarded with his First Class debut, replacing James Cameron. Daryl Mitchell won the toss for the home side and elected to bat first.
Somerset claimed an early wicket when Matt Pardoe edged a catch off the bowling of Steve Kirby into the safe hands of Marcus Trescothick at 2nd slip for 9 in the 4th over. Skipper Mitchell and Vikram Solanki then put on 73 for the 2nd wicket before Mitchell edged a catch to James Hildreth at 1st slip off the bowling of Peter Trego for 45. By lunch Worcestershire had reached 98-2.
The afternoon session belonged to Worcestershire with Solanki and Moeen Ali at the wicket who batted for the whole session of 35 overs putting on 141 runs. Both players looked in fine touch in a well made partnership to the delight of the home crowd. Batting conditions were good but there still was the occasional ball keeping low on a pitch previously used for a one day match to keep the batsmen ever watchful. By the tea interval Worcestershire had reached 235-2, which Moeen signalled with a huge 6 into the crowd.
Solanki was dismissed in the 3rd over after the tea interval to an excellent over the shoulder catch in the deep by Hildreth for 90 off the bowling of Murali Kartik. The 3rd wicket partnership was worth 148 runs and set the innings up well for the home side. Solanki had a more restrained innings than Moeen Ali, lasting 178 balls containing 11 boundaries and provided the ideal platform for the home side to hopefully go on and make a big first innings score.
This brought Alexei Kervezee to the crease who soon got into his stride and was an ideal partner for the free flowing Moeen Ali. The new ball did little to stem the flow of runs as the Worcestershire pair tried to dominate the Somerset attack. Moeen Ali passed his well deserved century, his 6th of his career, off 151 balls with his 17th boundary of the innings, the ball just eluding the deep cover fielder and ending up in the pavilion crowd. Kervezee was in fine dominant form with some excellent cover drives and quickly reached his 50 in just 61 deliveries.
Moeen Ali finished on an unbeaten 134* with Kervezee on 68* as the pair stretched the unbroken 4th wicket stand to 128 as Worcestershire closed the day in a comfortable position on 367-3.
Close of Play Day 1: Worcestershire 367-3. (96 overs).
Worcestershire lost a wicket in the first over of the day when Alexei Kervezee was trapped LBW by Charl Willoughby for 68, breaking the 3rd wicket partnership of 128 with Moeen Ali. However Worcestershire reached their first target of maximum batting points with the loss of one further wicket.
Shortly after guiding the team past 400 Moeen Ali was dismissed for a career best 158 by a catch at short extra cover by Arul Suppiah off the bowling of Willoughby. It was an excellent, composed innings by Moeen, lasting 244 balls and containing 24 boundaries. By lunch the home side had reached 471-8 thanks mainly to an entertaining 9th wicket stand between Ben Scott and Jack Shantry.
The 9th wicket stand was eventually worth 70 runs with Scott making 36 before being trapped LBW by Peter Trego. The innings finished two balls later as Trego picked up the last wicket to dismiss the home side for 488 in 129.4 overs. Shantry was left unbeaten on 36* after for the second match in succession producing a fine innings lower down the order which this time lasted for 52 balls and contained 7 boundaries.
The Somerset openers of Marcus Trescothick and Suppiah never looked troubled on a pitch that appeared to offer little to help the Worcestershire bowlers. Trescothick in particular was in his normal imperious form, almost like he was playing a different game than the rest of the players. The pair reached tea with the score on 95-0 but carried on after the interval with the same fluency. The visitors reached close of play on 198-0 with Trescothick on 106* and Suppiah on 86*. The visitors were still 290 runs behind Worcestershire's score so a high scoring draw still looks the most likely outcome of this match.
Trescothick's 49th First Class century came in 145 deliveries in an innings already containing 18 boundaries and never looked troubled against any of the Worcestershire bowlers as he passed 1,500 First Class runs for the season so far. Suppiah, after perhaps a slightly tentative start, proved to be an ideal partner and was fast closing on his century by the close of play.
Close of Play Day 2: Worcestershire 488. Somerset 198-0 (60 overs).
Worcestershire endured a long day in the field as Somerset took a useful 1st innings lead at New Road in the LV= County Championship match. In the first session the visitors continued their overnight opening partnership for seven overs into the day's play extending it to 207. Arul Suppiah was the man to go, leaving a ball from Saeed Ajmal that turned. Suppiah made 88 in an innings lasting 209 balls.
It was to be the only wicket of the session as Marcus Trescothick looked untroubled the entire session in a serene batting display. The new ball was taken 11 overs before the lunch interval but did little to trouble the Somerset batsmen. Nick Compton survived an early catch chance at slip but survived to lunch on 32*. Trescothick himself passed 150 during the session and moved onto 173* by lunch with Somerset on 307-1.
The 2nd wicket partnership between Trescothick and Compton reached 151 before Jack Shantry made the breakthrough capturing the key wicket of Trescothick, caught at mid wicket by Alexei Kervezee for 203. It was Trescothick's fifth double hundred of his career in an masterful innings lasting 296 deliveries and containing 30 boundaries. On a good batting track and with a strong batting line up Somerset continued to pile on the runs reaching 437-3 by tea, with Nick Compton passing 1,000 First Class runs for the season in the process.
The final session did bring some reward for the home side with six wickets falling in the session as the visitors upped the run rate looking to gain a good 1st innings lead. Compton was dismissed by a catch at slip by Daryl Mitchell off the bowling of Moeen Ali for a 95 that came in 190 balls and contained just 4 boundaries. James Hildreth (67) and Craig Kieswetter (68) kept the flow of runs flowing even though Worcestershire did fight back taking wickets in the final session
Somerset declared on 591-9 after batting for a shade under 152 overs. The pitch did not offer the expected spin for Saeed Ajmal but he still claimed 3-23 in his final spell to finish with economical innings figures of 5-150 in 51 overs. Moeen Ali also picked up a couple of wickets with his off spin with figures of 2-88. Alan Richardson bowled for 34 overs in the innings and while he unusually remained wicketless on this occasion still only went for less than 3.5 runs per over.
The visitors gained an overall 1st innings lead of 103.In the two overs that remained in the day Worcestershire reached 4-0 at the close of play. Worcestershire will have to bat for at least two complete sessions on the final to ensure they save the game
Close of Play Day 3: Worcestershire (488 & 4-0) trail Somerset (591-9 dec.) by 99 runs with 10 second innings wickets remaining.
Worcestershire slumped to a disappointing defeat on the final day of the LV= County Championship match against Somerset at New Road. Requiring to bat the day out to gain the draw Worcestershire were bowled out for 95 in 39 overs.
The Somerset bowlers bowled well in the overcast conditions and the ball moved just enough to make playing difficult at times but some of the Worcestershire batsmen got out to poor shots. The one exception was skipper Daryl Mitchell who top scored with 26 before being trapped LBW off a ball by Peter Trego that kept very low. With three ducks and only four scores in double figures it was a disappointing team performance in a match that should have been drawn.
The highest partnership was 29 for the 3rd wicket between Mitchell and Moeen Ali but when Ali was dismissed to a skied catch to keeper Craig Kieswetter for 10 a flurry of wickets followed to leave the game all but over by lunch with score on 84-7.
Peter Trego took 4-22 and Alfonso Thomas 3-13 as the visitors made short work of dismissing Worcestershire within six overs after the resumption after lunch.
Result: Somerset (591-9 dec.) beat Worcestershire (488 & 95) by an innings & 8 runs.
Somerset 22 pts. Worcestershire 6 points.