Joe Clarke provided glimpses of his rich potential to steady promotion-chasing Worcestershire’s first innings on a truncated opening day of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Durham at New Road.
The England Lions batsman came to the wicket with Worcestershire perched uneasily on 13-2 after choosing to bat and being given a searching examination by the Durham pace trio of Chris Rushworth, Graham Onions and Mark Wood.
It was not an ideal start for the home side in pursuit of the maximum six points needed to guarantee a return to Division One next summer when play got underway at 2pm.
But by the time rain and bad light had led to play being called off for the day at 5.15pm, Clarke had moved onto an unbeaten run-a-ball 46 out of 90-3 from 26 overs after he had wrestled the initiative back from the Durham attack.
The 21-year-old will be hoping for positive news in the week when the Lions squad for the winter training camp in Australia during November-December is expected to be announced.
Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach opted to bat first on a new wicket already showing signs of taking spin via Durham debutant, slow left armer Liam Trevaskis,
But it was the seam bowlers who did the initial damage including Onions who announced today that he is leaving Durham after 14 years after failing to agree a new contract.
Brett D’Oliveira had a let off before he had scored with Ryan Pringle at third slip spilling a low chance off Onions.
Fellow Worcestershire opener Daryl Mitchell went into the game as the second highest run-scorer in Division Two but after making five he edged Rushworth to Keaton Jennings at second slip.
Tom Fell (1) was bowled by an inswinging delivery from Onions to leave Worcestershire on 13-2 in the 10th over.
There was much playing and missing of the new ball and Clarke inside edged Rushworth for four.
But Clarke and D’Oliveira gradually started to flourish.
Clarke reeled off a series of impressive boundaries and the 50 stand with D’Oliveira came up in 11 overs.
After battling his way to 22, D’Oliveira pushed forward to Jennings and was caught by Paul Collingwood at second slip at 69-3.
Clarke continued to play with freedom and collected three boundaries in an over from 18-year-old Trevaskis before the players went for tea and never returned.