Worcestershire assistant coach Matt Mason praised Worcestershire all-rounder Ed Barnard's performance with the ball – and says it will be well deserved if he goes onto complete his first five wicket haul in Specsavers County Championship cricket.
Barnard was the pick of the Worcestershire bowlers on day one of the match with Gloucestershire at Cheltenham where the home side recovered from 129-5 to reach 343-8 thanks to an unbeaten 118 from Jack Taylor.
The 21-year-old ended with 4-67 from 25 overs and bowled an immaculate line and length for much of the day in taking his Championship wicket tally for the campaign to 23.
Mason, who is also the County's fast bowling coach, said: "I thought that is the best Ed has looked this season for a little while.
"He ran in with a lot more vigour, he hit the pitch hard and got his rewards for bowling a really good line and length, simple as that.
"It was great to see him get those four wickets and I hope he can get one more and get his first five-for because he has not got one in first class cricket yet – and he deserves one."
Barnard said: "Is that the best I've bowled this season? Definitely. My rhythm felt as good as it has felt all year.
"It is nice to get a few wickets but more the economy and being able to stick to an area (with the ball) was the best I've done for a while.
"In the last few weeks, I've leaked runs a bit and gone for a bit higher run rate than I would have liked.
"Today it all seemed to click in quite nicely."
Barnard added: "It allows you to get into that rhythm when you do bowl those long spells but you've got to bowl well upfront to allow yourself to have those long spells.
"Joe (Leach) was good today. He just let me keep going really and was encouraging me all along."
Mason was frustrated that Worcestershire failed to capitalise on their promising start to proceedings after electing to bowl first.
He said: "At 80-4 in the first session we were pretty happy,especially with the decision to bowl first.
"We wanted to make first use of the wicket because it was a little bit greener than they traditionally are here and it looked a good decision. Generally they get better here to bat on here and it does look like it is getting better to bat on.
"After lunch it settled down a little bit. I thought they batted well and applied themselves well.
"But again there was that frustration of getting a team seven wickets down and looking to be in the driving seat and not being clinical enough in finishing the job off.
"We sort of went to a different plan. We went short and went away from our traditional plan of bowling at the top of off stump for long periods and that probably cost us in the end.
"We just didn't execute our plans as well as we could have on day one."
Taylor made Worcestershire rue dropping him on 16 as he completed back ti back hundreds in Championship cricket against the visitors.
Mason said: "It happens, no-one means to drop a catch but, if that one sticks when Taylor is on 16, it is maybe a different looking day but I take my hat off to him.
"He played another terrific knock. We need to get him early in the morning, finish them off early and get batting on this good wicket.
"They have got more runs on the board than we would have liked. With seven down for 230, we would have liked to have finished that off a lot quicker and we've got some work to do tomorrow."
Barnard also praised Taylor's knock but said: "I still think if we can get those last two wickets tomorrow, it is still only a par score.
"It is a very fast scoring outfield and a flat pitch so hopefully we can go past them."