Worcestershire named an unchanged side for the final home match of the season with the visit of Sussex for a LV= County Championship Division 1 match. With both teams just outside the relegation places a win for either side would all but guarantee 1st Division survival.
Sussex won the toss and elected to bat first in overcast conditions. Alan Richardson and Kemar Roach shared the new ball and both picked up a wicket in their opening spells. Ed Joyce was bowled around his legs by Richardson for 6 and fellow opener Chris Nash was bowled by an inn-swinger by Roach for 13. The second string of Worcestershire bowlers were not able to maintain the pressure from the opening bowling pair with Sussex recovering to reach lunch on 113-2 with Joe Gatting and Murray Goodwin looking set to build a big 3rd wicket partnership.
A couple of dropped catches, one a very straightforward chance, and an overall below par fielding performance in the morning session by the home side allowed Sussex to build momentum which they carried on through to the afternoon session. Both Roach and Richardson were unlucky not to pick up a wicket in their spells immediately after lunch with both batsmen in dominant form. Richardson in particular was in fine form and maintaining his position as the leading wicket taker in Division 1 this season.
The breakthrough came in the first over of Gareth Andrew's return spell when Goodwin was well caught at first slip by Vikram Solanki for 60, with a diving catch after parrying the first attempt into the air. This triggered a mini collapse with two more wickets falling in the space of four overs. After reaching a solid 70 off 110 balls Gatting was tempted into a rash shot off Richard Jones's bowling only to edge a catch to Ben Scott. Jones also picked up the wicket of Matt Prior who had just blasted four boundaries for 16 who drove a ball straight to Moeen Ali at extra cover.
Skipper Michael Yardy looked to help the visitors to recover with a 6th wicket stand with Ben Brown before he was caught at cover by Solanki for 13. A light rain shower caused an early tea to be taken with the score on 217-6. In the final session of the day Brown guided Sussex towards a respectable 1st innings total, finishing on 53* by the time bad light caused an early close to the days play. Moeen Ali bowled well, getting some bounce from the wicket, claiming the wicket of Will Adkin, bowled for 10 in the process, to finish with figures of 2-33 from 17 overs. With the new ball taken just before the close of play Worcestershire will hope Richardson and Roach can claim the last two remaining Sussex wickets without them building on what be already a competitive score of 289-8.
Close of Play Day 1: Sussex 289-8.
Worcestershire endured a frustrating second day of the LV= County Championship match against Sussex at New Road with the visitors in a good position by the close of play.
With Sussex on 289-8 at the start of the days play Worcestershire were looking for early wickets, however the Sussex tail enders dug in well and enabled them to build a good 1st innings score. The 9th wicket stand was worth 49 runs before Ben Brown was dismissed in Moeen Ali's first over of the day when he went down the track to be stumped by Ben Scott for 71. Monty Panesar joined James Anyon for a last wicket stand of 52 runs. Panesar was last man out, LBW to Moeen Ali for 20 with Anyon unbeaten on 44*. Sussex were dismissed for 375, after putting on 141 runs for the last three wickets.
Worcestershire may come to regret a below par fielding performance and three dropped catches during the innings. Moeen Ali finished with figures of 4-53 in just under 25 overs and Alan Richardson was his at his dependable economical best with figures of 2-46 from 30 overs.
There was only one over to be bowled before the lunch interval, which the home side safely saw out with the score on 3-0. After lunch the Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and James Cameron made a solid start to the innings. Just as both batsmen were beginning to look comfortable Cameron was bowled for 35 by Will Adkin with the score on 65-1.
Monty Panesar was brought into the attack in 17th over of the innings and bowled for the rest of the innings, with only the tea interval as a rest. It was Panesar that picked up the second Worcestershire wicket to fall with Solanki being caught at forward short leg by Chris Nash for 11 at the stroke of the tea interval.
The final session brought five wickets for the visitors as Worcestershire went from 83-2 to 199-7 by the close of play. Panesar was making life difficult at one end for all the batsmen. Moeen Ali looked disappointed to be given out caught at 1st slip by Matt Prior for 11 off the bowling of Panesar. Mitchell had been dismissed a couple of overs early trapped LBW by Anyon for 36 after facing 101 deliveries. A 7th wicket stand of 73 helped the home side to a more respectable total with Gareth Andrew making 24 with Alexei Kervezee before being bowled by a well flighted ball Panesar which appeared to dip at the last moment. Panesar finished the day with 4-48 with Ben Scott trapped LBW straight in front of the stumps for 9 on the last ball of the day.
Alexei Kervezee overcame his recent form with a fine innings of 52* and looked in good touch with some well placed aggressive shots. His innings will be crucial on the third day as Worcestershire need another 27 runs to avoid the follow on and need to earn as many batting points as possible with only 3 wickets remaining in their 1st innings.
Close of Play Day 2: Sussex 375. Worcestershire 199-7.
Sussex ended the 3rd day of the LV= County Championship match at New Road in a strong position with a more than healthy lead of 420 runs going into the final day. Resuming the day on 199-7 Worcestershire added 23 runs to their overnight score before being dismissed for 222.
Amjad Khan picked up two wickets bowling Richard Jones for 0 and the last man Alan Richardson for 1 beating both batsmen with sheer pace. Khan also had a hand in the other wicket to fall when Alexei Kervezee was caught by a leading edge to extra cover off the bowling of Monty Panesar for 69. Panesar finished with figures of 5-58 as Sussex finished with a first innings lead of 153 runs. Forgoing the right to enforce the follow on the visitors elected to bat again,
Sussex made a quick start to their 2nd innings with Chris Nash scoring a brisk 26 off 24 deliveries before caught at the wicket by Ben Scott off the bowling of Richardson. Joe Gatting and Ed Joyce took the visitors to the lunch interval with the score on 77-1.
After lunch the second wicket pair continued to accumulate runs but it was slow going with a more disciplined bowling display by Worcestershire kept the run rate down but neither batsman looked troubled as Sussex slowly accumulated the runs to increase their lead. Joyce in particular was in majestic form. The only wicket to fall in the session was that of Joyce, well caught in the deep by James Cameron for60 with the first ball of Richard Jones's spell that session. The 2nd wicket stand between Joyce and Gatting was worth 120 runs. By the tea interval Sussex had reached 187-2 with Gatting unbeaten on 77*
The evening session was a truncated affair with two stoppages for light rain showers and bad light eventually bringing an early close to the days play. Sussex upped the run rate in the final session which also brought a couple of wickets, both to Richardson. Murray Goodwin was easily caught at mid on by Gareth Andrew for 32 and Matt Prior was cleaned bowled for 21. The stand out innings was by Joe Gatting who finished the day unbeaten on 116*, after facing 198 deliveries and scoring 13 boundaries in his maiden Championship century. This allowed Sussex to build a very impressive lead of 420 runs.
Close of Play Day 3: Sussex (375 & 267-4) lead Worcestershire (222) by 420 runs with six second innings wickets remaining.
Sussex declared on their overnight scoring leaving Worcestershire a huge total of 421 in order to win the match, or at least bat the day out for a draw.
It was to prove another disappointing day for the home side as they were bowled out for 169. Daryl Mitchell provided some stout resistance with an innings of 61 from 109 deliveries before being trapped LBW by James Anyon shortly after the resumption after the lunch interval. A 3rd wicket partnership of 59 between Mitchell and Moeen Ali in the morning session did raise some hope that the home side would be able to bat the day out. However when Ali was caught at slip by Matt Prior edging a wide delivery from Chris Nash for 25 shortly before the lunch interval it was clear that Sussex were in total control of the match.
Anyon took 4-55 and Amjad Khan 3-43 as the visitors won the match by 251 runs to ensure their Division 1 status for the next season, thanks to results elsewhere on the same day.
Worcestershire go into their final match still in a relegation spot, but requiring just one point to go ahead of the team above them and with a 17 point advantage over the bottom placed team.
Sussex (375 & 267-4 dec.) beat Worcestershire (222 & 169) by 251 runs
Sussex 23 points. Worcestershire 4 points.