Worcestershire Club Captain Joe Leach picked up three wickets but fine innings from Ryan Higgins and Tom Smith helped Gloucestershire to recover from a mid-afternoon wobble on day one of the Specsavers County Championship match at Cheltenham

Leach lifted his wicket tally for the campaign to 29 and a two wicket burst after lunch reduced Gloucestershire to 125-4.

But Higgins, with an aggressive 76 illuminated with some sparkling strokes, and Smith with a more measured 79 not out, helped Gloucestershire to reach 339-7 from 92 overs before bad light ended play.

Worcestershire made two changes to their line-up with Wayne Parnell and Adam Finch brought back into the side for Josh Dell and Charlie Morris.

It was the first time that Dillon Pennington and Finch, who shared the new ball for England Under-19s at the 2018 World Cup, had played in the same Championship side.

Worcestershire opted to bowl first via an uncontested toss and club captain Joe Leach gave them the ideal start with Miles Hammond (0) caught behind off the fourth ball of the day.

Chris Dent and Gareth Roderick (40) added 70 for the second wicket before Pennington returned for a second spell and had the latter caught at gulley by Callum Ferguson after attempting a drive.

Gloucestershire reached 86-2 at lunch and lost a third wicket after adding six runs following the resumption.
James Bracey (8) slashed at a Leach delivery which was parried at head height by Ferguson at third slip before being claimed by Riki Wessels at first slip.

It became 125-4 when Dent (58) provided Ben Cox with his 300th dismissal for Worcestershire (see separate story).

But then the afternoon pictured altered as Higgins reeled off a series of impressive strokes in reaching a 32 ball half century with 10 fours.

He dominated a century partnership with Smith which came up in only 17 overs.

Worcestershire did not fire on all cylinders with the ball during that spell although the batsman also had the occasional escape.

Higgins on 16 survived a difficult and sharp head high chance to Daryl Mitchell at second slip off Ed Barnard and Smith on 39 was dropped at short cover by Wessels from the bowling of Brett D’Oliveira.

Smith went to his half century off the last delivery before tea – from 109 balls with six fours.

But D’Oliveira made a double breakthrough early in the final session of the day.

Higgins on 76 swept at the leg spinner and Cox held onto the legside chance and then Jack Taylor, who had scored a century in each of his previous four Championship appearances against Worcestershire, holed out to Parnell at mid-on.

The second new ball was taken with Gloucestershire on 294-6 from 80 overs and Worcestershire looking to strive for a third bowling point.

Parnell had Benny Howell (36) safely pouched by Barnard at gulley to end a stand of 58 with Smith shortly before the players left the field.