Matt Pardoe made his First Class debut as he was named in the Worcestershire team to face Yorkshire at New Road. Pardoe from Stourbridge, now 20 years old has come through all the age groups at Worcestershire and earnt his place after his performances for the 2nd XI in the past couple of years.
The game also saw the Worcestershire debut for Damien Wright, a fast bowler from New South Wales who is no stranger to English bowling conditions after spells with Scotland, Somerset, Glamorgan, Sussex and Northamptonshire.
For Yorkshire it was a welcome return to action for Joe Sayers after a lengthy absence last season. Twenty year old batsman Joe Root also made a Championship debut in the place of Anthony McGrath.
Daryl Mitchell won the toss for Worcestershire and elected to bat first on a clear sunny day in front of a good sized crowd on the opening day of the season with New Road looking at its scenic best.
Opener James Cameron made 30 being being bowled by Ryan Sidebottom. Adil Rashid also picked up two wickets as the home side reached 96-3 at lunch with Mitchell falling LBW for 49 just before the interval.
Rashid struck again soon after the interval to leave Worcestershire in a dangerous position on 100-4 with Moeen Ali and Pardoe having to progress carefully against Rashid's bowling. Moeen Ali was tempted into one shot too many, edging a catch to the wicket keeper for 18 after a patient innings lasting 72 deliveries. Gareth Andrew and Pardoe then saw the home side to tea with the score on 161-5.
The re-introduction of Sidebottom into the attack four overs after the tea interval proved a key decision as 3 wickets fell for 6 runs in 16 deliveries after a period where the home side looked to up the run rate against Rashid with some more positive shots.
Matt Pardoe was caught by Joe Sayers at short mid wicket for 26 off the bowling of Sidebottom after an debut innings lasting 88 deliveries. Andrew fell soon after clean bowled for 49 attempting to sweep Rashid. With Damien Wright following 9 balls later to leave the score on 197-8 the visitors were perhaps hoping to close the innings off quickly, with Rashid looking to claim career best figures, he ended the innings on 6-77 from 28 overs.
However Matt Mason produced a wonderful tail end performance of both stubborn resistance and flamboyant shots to equal his career best score of 63 in in just 53 deliveries including 10 boundaries. From 218-9 he completed a last wicket stand of 68 with Alan Richardson (16*) which earned the home side an extra batting point and taking their score to a more respectable 286 all out right on the close of play.
Close of play Day 1: Worcestershire 286 all out.
====================================================================== Day 2:
Worcestershire got themselves into a good position on the second day of the match only to see a spirited fight back by Yorkshire with an unbeaten 8th wicket partnership which leaves the match fairly evenly balanced.
Yorkshire started their first innings with a opening stand of 40 between Adam Lyth and Joe Sayers. The partnership was broken in the 13th over with Ben Cox taking a fine catch at the wicket, giving Damien Wright his first wicket for Worcestershire.
Gareth Andrew, coming on first change at the New Road end of the ground picked up a wicket in his 2nd over with Joe Root caught at 1st slip by Vikram Solanki. Matt Mason struck three overs later to dismiss Joe Sayers for 15 after a stubborn innings lasting 67 deliveries, having him caught at 2nd slip by the skipper Daryl Mitchell. Less than four overs later Mason picked up his 2nd wicket, that of Jonathan Bairstow, caught at 4th slip by James Cameron with the score on 73. Yorkshire reached the lunch interval on 97-4.
After lunch Wright picked up his 2nd wicket of the innings after tempting Andrew Gale into edging a catch to Ben Cox for 27. When Rashid also fell to Wright's bowling, this time by a catch in the gully by Gareth Andrew the home side sensed an upset on the cards with the visitors now on 120-6.
Richard Pyrah and Gerard Brophy made 7th wicket stand of 35 together before Moeen Ali trapped Pyrah LBW for 19 with only his third ball to leave the score on 155-7. Brophy was already looking well set at the crease when he was joined by Ryan Sidebottom.
Any hope Worcestershire had of getting the last three wickets quickly were dashed by a combination of solid defensive shots by Sidebottom and some classic straight drives by Brophy. The pair comfortably saw the visitors to tea with the score on 197-7.
The final session belonged to Brophy and Sidebottom who seemed perfectly at ease against all the Worcestershire bowlers, even when the new ball was taken. Brophy passed his century on 168 balls and finished the day unbeaten on 118*, scoring 17 boundaries in the process. His partner contributed with some big shots of his own, with Sidebottom passing his 50 just before the close of play. Yorkshire ended the day on 284-7, having reduced the deficit to just 2 runs with Brophy and Sidebottom still unbeaten in a 8th wicket partnership of 129.
Close of play Day 2: Worcestershire 286. Yorkshire 284-7. ======================================================================
At the start of the third day Worcestershire required early wickets to prevent Yorkshire from getting too far ahead on 1st innings. The home side had to wait until the 9th over of the day for the 8th wicket stand of Gerard Brophy and Ryan Sidebottom to be broken. Matt Mason got the breakthrough with his 4th ball of his spell bowling Sidebottom for a career best 61 to bring the 149 run partnership to an end. Seven overs later Moeen Ali trapped Steven Patterson for 10 with Yorkshire on 325.
There was still time for a 10th wicket stand of 43 between Moin Ashraf and Brophy, in which Brophy scored all the runs to finish unbeaten on 177* after a mammoth innings lasting just under 6 hours with 273 deliveries and containing 25 boundaries. Yorkshire were bowled out for 368, giving them a more than useful 1st innings lead of 82. In the four overs before lunch Worcestershire safely reached 20-0.
Ryan Sidebottom took the first Worcestershire wicket in the 3rd over after lunch trapping James Cameron LBW for 11 with the score on 21. Worcestershire then lost two further wickets while still in deficit with Sidebottom and Patterson picking up a wicket each to leave the home side struggling on 53-3.
The introduction of spin with Adil Rashid in the 21st proved to be the final downfall for the home side. For the first three overs Moeen Ali and Alexei Kervezee went after Rashid aggressively, hitting him for 27 runs in his first 3 overs. However when Ali top edged a catch to Adam Lyth at leg slip, running around from 1st slip for 21 off the bowling of Rashid it was to signal the start of a collapse.
The home side went from 102-3 to 135-8 in just over 12 overs up to the tea interval with Patterson and Rashid sharing the wickets between them. A further wicket fell on the first ball after tea with the final wicket falling with the score on 137, with the home side being dismissed in under 39 overs.
Alexei Kervezee top scored with a belligerent 52 off 53 balls, including 9 boundaries. After going for 27 in his first 3 overs, Rashid then took 5 wickets for 10 runs in just under 7 overs to finish with figures of 5-37 and recording his first 10 wicket haul in a match.
This left Yorkshire with a fairly comfortable target of 56 runs to win in a minimum of 28 overs left in the day. The visitors chased down the score in under 13 overs with the loss of only one wicket to win the match by 9 wickets.
Worcestershire (286 & 137) lost to Yorkshire (368 & 56-1) by 9 wickets.
Worcestershire 4 points. Yorkshire 22 points.