Riki Wessels continued his recent impressive form to spearhead a Worcestershire recovery and then Ed Barnard delivered a superb three wicket salvo on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Gloucestershire at Blackfinch New Road.

Wessels played a major role in enabling Worcestershire to recover from 71-5 to total 221 all out in 55 overs with a splendid 72.

It was another fine knock from the former Nottinghamshire batsman, mixing some delightful trademark strokes with responsible batting.

He has slotted effectively back into a middle order role after a brief experiment opening the innings and struck 10 fours and a six – off Ryan Higgins – in his 91 ball knock.

Wessels looked on course for a century until he was well caught at deep square leg by Ben Charlesworth off Josh Shaw.

He received excellent support from Barnard (30) during a sixth wicket partnership of 82 and useful late order contributions from Club Captain Joe Leach and Adam Finch lifted the total past the 200 mark.

Barnard then weighed in with two wickets in his first three overs in sending back Gloucestershire openers James Bracey and Chris Dent and also accounted for Miles Hammond in a spell of 8-3-16-3 as Gloucestershire closed on 87-4 from 33 overs.

Worcestershire encountered early difficulties against Gloucestershire’s new ball attack of David Payne and Ryan Higgins.

The visitors opted to bowl via an uncontested toss following an hour’s delay to the start after morning drizzle.

Under leaden skies, Payne made the first breakthrough when Daryl Mitchell (10) fell to a fine catch taken above his head by Tom Smith at third slip.

The first delivery of the next over accounted for Rutherford (7) who looked to work a delivery from Higgins on the on-side and was given lbw.

Two balls later Alex Milton (0) shouldered arms to the former Middlesex all-rounder and was bowled.

Jack Haynes (8) was undone by a ball from Payne which swung back in and trapped him lbw.

Smith produced another excellent catch, low down at third slip, to account for Ben Cox (2) off Higgins.

Barnard was a staunch ally to Wessels who completed a 58 ball half century.

The England Lions all-rounder was eventually dismissed in Charlesworth’s first over as keeper Gareth Roderick held onto a low chance.

Leach struck a rapid 26 before he perished at extra over off Shaw and then Dillon Pennington (9) became Higgins fourth scalp when he was bowled.

Finch and Charlie Morris added 25 useful runs for the final wicket before the latter on 17 aimed a big hit at Payne and was bowled.

Umpire Nick Cook, who was suffering from a knee problem, was replaced by Mike Burns mid-way through the afternoon session.

When Gloucestershire batted, Leach bowled a probing opening spell and went past the outside edge many times and on another day could easily have collected two or three wickets.

It was Barnard who made the first breakthrough as Bracey (23) nicked through to keeper Cox and then Dent (18) was pouched by Haynes at third slip at 42-2.

Mitchell bowled a tight and productive spell which brought him his first Championship scalp of the season when Tom Smith (9) was lbw.

It became 56-4 when Hammond (5) also fell to the Cox-Barnard combination.