Worcestershire CCC Under-17s returned to the Caribbean and did battle in seven matches – including four at the Darren Sammy National Stadium – with St. Lucia Under-17s in which the two sides were evenly matched.
St. Lucia won four of the seven games but one of those victories was obtained only via a Super Over after the scores finished level and Worcestershire, who won two matches, were on course for a probable win in another game which was abandoned.
The winter trip to the Caribbean has become a regular part of the County’s calendar for more than a decade and of immense benefit to Worcestershire’s young talent in experiencing different playing conditions and cultures.
Joe Miszkowski captained the side and he certainly led by example with a string of fine performances with the bat while Oliver Walker – a member of the 2019-2020 Academy intake – produced the stand-out bowling figures in Game Three and excelled throughout in both disciplines.
Games One, Two, Four and Five were played at the Darren Sammy National Stadium with Games Three, Six and Seven taking place at Gros Islet.
In Game One, Reeve Evitts (3-29) – another full 2019-2020 Academy member – Walker (2-1) and Ben Sutton (2-25) helped bowl out St. Lucia for 162 in 39.3 overs and then Worcestershire reached 36-0 from just five overs before the game was abandoned.
Miszkowski top-scored with 76 off 109 balls in Game Two and put on 110 for the fourth wicket with Walker – 84 off 105 deliveries – as Worcestershire totalled 240-6 in 50 overs but St. Lucia raced to a seven wicket win with nearly eight overs to spare.
Walker returned the excellent figures of 6-26 in Game Three as St. Lucia were dismissed for 183 in 35.3 overs. Worcestershire were 1-2 in reply but Evitts (32) and Elliot Small (25) steadied the ship before Miszkowski (58) and Callum Bennett (25 not out) saw them to a three wicket win.
In Game Four, a T20 match, St. Lucia amassed 185-2 and Worcestershire were restricted to 118-7 despite an unbeaten 51 from Miszkowski.
Another half-century from Miszkowski – 52 – plus 40 from Walker helped Worcestershire to 150-5 from their 20 overs in Game Five. Walker then collected two wickets in the final over as St. Lucia, who were 90-6 at one stage, fell one run short on 149-8. Jack Home (2-11 in three) and Ben Southern (2-15 in three) also played key roles.
Worcestershire’s least effective performance with the bat came in Game Six when they were bowled out for 100 in 19.3 overs after being 55-9 before Small (18 not out) and Ben Sutton (20) added 45 for the final wicket. St. Lucia won by six wickets in 11.2 overs despite Robert Jones tidy spell of 3-0-11-1.
Worcestershire came so close to levelling the series of games at 3-3 in the final encounter. St. Lucia totalled 170-7 in 20 overs with Evitts (4-0-17-1) giving little away and the game looked over when the County slumped to 7-4.
But a splendid partnership of 146 between Walker (87 off 52 balls) and Sutton (70 not out off 52 deliveries) lifted their side to 170-5 only for the hosts to edge home in the Super Over in what was a fitting climax to an excellent series.
David Banks and David Manning, Worcestershire’s Lead Under-17 and Under-15 coaches respectively, again oversaw the trip.