Ben Cox scored a career best 124 and – with sterling support from George Rhodes – inspired a Worcestershire recovery on day two of the Specsavers County Championship match with Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.

The wicket-keeper batsman completed a chanceless century when he drove Liam Norwell for his 17th four.

Cox's third Championship ton also completed two sixes and came off 136 balls and once again he made runs when they were most needed with his side in considerable trouble.

He came to the wicket with Worcestershire 69-4 in reply to Gloucestershire's first innings total of 383.

And the 25-year-old found an excellent ally in Rhodes who made an accomplished half century during a fifth wicket partnership of 141 in 36 overs.

Cox then went past his previous career best score of 109 versus Somerset at New Road in a Division One fixture in May 2015.

He had come close to three figures last month when, batting at number five, he scored 93 against visiting Glamorgan.

But he was not to be denied on this occasion and was hugged out in the middle by Ed Barnard after reaching his century.

Skipper Joe Leach then boldly declared at 300-9 with eight over remaining in the day and Gloucestershire closed on 20-0.

Worcestershire had run into early trouble when they launched their reply with Daryl Mitchell (6) lbw to David Payne and Tom Fell (2) caught shoulder high by Kieran Noema-Barnett at fourth slip off Norwell.

Brett D'Oliveira and Joe Clarke looked in good nick and added 36 before both fell either side of lunch.

Clarke (23) shouldered arms to Noema-Barnett and was bowled and then D'Oliveira (25) pulled Craig Miles straight to Norwell at deep square leg.

Rhodes cover-drove Noema-Barnett to the boundary to bring up the 100 in the 34th over and then Cox pulled Norwell for six as the 50 stand was completed in 13 overs.

The pair kept pace with each other for much of the partnership and Cox tucked into a short Will Tavare delivery to complete the 100 partnership in 27 overs.

Cox, whose half century was brought up off 91 balls with eight fours and a six, accelerated after tea with three boundaries in an over from Miles.

A single off Norwell took Rhodes to his fifty from 118 balls with seven fours.

The stand was finally broken as Rhodes (52) cut Miles to backward point and Ross Whiteley (1) was bowled by Norwell.

But Cox was not to be denied his hundred and then his seventh wicket partner Ed Barnard produced a series of handsome cover-drives for four.

The return to the attack of Noema-Barnett brought an end to Cox's innings as he attempted a cut and was caught behind after hitting two sixes and 20 fours in his 169 ball knock.

Barnard (23) – caught at slip – and John Hastings (0) – at mid off – fell in Noema-Barnett's next over to leave Worcestershire on 286-9.

But Leach struck a quickfire 17 not out before the declaration to seal a third batting point.

 

 

 

When Gloucestershire resumed on 343-8, Barnard was looking for one more wicket to complete a five-for in first class cricket for the first time.

But it was Josh Tongue who polished off the innings with Payne (15) bowled by the third delivery of the day and Jack Taylor caught by Joe Leach running back from mid on for an excellent 143 off 170 balls with one six and 20 fours.