Worcestershire 493 (D’Oliveira 138, Cox 77, Mitchell 58, Parkinson 8-148) and 132 for 4 beat Leicestershire 404 (Dexter 114, Cosgrove 74) and 220 (Chappell 66, Hill 60) by six wickets
Worcestershire have given themselves a fantastic potential for securing promotion following a third successive County Championship victory.
It could took them longer than anticipated – entry to New Road was free on Friday with a chance that matters could possibly be settled in a hour, but play ultimately stretched until around 3.20pm – however the result takes Worcestershire the surface of the table with a couple of weeks of the growing season remaining.
The derive from Cardiff means promotion isn’t assured as Northants have a casino game in hand. However the worst case scenario means Worcestershire will demand no more than 11 points from their final match against Durham. As their captain, Joe Leach, put it: “It’s inside our own hands.”
With Northants having to defeat Nottinghamshire in a few days to sustain their very own promotion hopes, it really is possible Worcestershire’s promotion will undoubtedly be guaranteed before their next match begins. If that’s the case, it could be their fifth promotion in 11 years under director of cricket Steve Rhodes and the very first time in the annals of two divisions they have found themselves in the division above Warwickshire.
This is a scenario that seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago. Following the fall-out of the Tom Kohler-Cadmore affair and a gruesome T20 campaign – no team won fewer or lost more games – it seemed their Championship form was falling away. They won just one single (and lost three) out of six Championship games in the center of the growing season.
But a short break and the acquisition of Ravi Ashwin has given them renewed life. While Ashwin’s figures are relatively modest – he’s got claimed 13 wickets at typically 33.46 in his three games up to now – his presence has lifted the medial side. He could be clearly relaxed in the surroundings – he could be enjoying travelling the city without having to be recognised – and contains inspired a few of his young team-mates to the revival. Ashwin was the only real man in this side never to have graduated through the Worcestershire system.
They’re a few exceptional young players in this Worcestershire side. In 19-year-old Josh Tongue (who has 45 first-class wickets this year) they will have among the outstanding fast bowling prospects in the united kingdom – this is a long, very long time since this type of bowler came through the machine here – during 21-year-old Joe Clarke (who has 850 first-class runs come early july) they will have among the outstanding young batsmen. Both are set to be contained in performance squads this winter.
“To be the surface of the league with predominantly home grown talent, we have been very pleased with that fact,” Rhodes said afterwards. “To get maximum points with 10 Academy players enables you to feel very proud.
“The new-ball spell on Thursday, when Leicestershire were reduced to 10 for 4, was a pivotal moment in the overall game.”
They didn’t have life completely their very own way on the ultimate day. Leicestershire’s eighth-wicket pair, coming alongside the lead only 22, placed on 103 in 23 overs as Worcestershire’s ploy of testing them with the short ball backfired. Zak Chappell, specifically, produced some nice pulls as he recorded the next half-century of his career – the initial, an innings of 96, was made on his first-class debut – with Lewis Hill adding measured support.
They played Ashwin well, too. Chappell raised his 50 from 63 balls with a straight six back on the off-spinner’s head and, because the lead grew beyond 100 and rain necessitated a few brief interruptions, Worcestershire nerves begun to grow.
Finally, the short ball worked, though. Chappell and Doeter Klein pulled long-hops to midwicket before Lewis, left only with the No. 11, slog-swept to the square-leg boundary where Brett D’Oliveira held to a well-judged catch. Leicestershire had lost their last three wickets for the addition of just six runs and Worcestershire required just 132 to win.
The pursuit had not been entirely straightforward – D’Oliveira missed an attempted scoop, Daryl Mitchell played on and Tom Fell, with a high score of 39 in every formats this year, looks as though he requires a holiday – however the pitch remained true and Leicestershire, with out a win this year, lacked the belief to show the screw as some sides may have done.
It had been, though, each day that offered some encouragement for Leicestershire, too. In 21-year-old Chappell they will have probably the most outstanding prospects in the county game: an allrounder with the capacity of bowling fast. He could be raw, certainly – he could be susceptible to fall away as he bowls and he doesn’t appear to gain much lateral movement – but he’s got the potential to be fine player.
And in Callum Parkinson, who followed his eight wickets in the initial innings – the very best haul by way of a Leicestershire bowler since Devon Malcolm took 8 for 63 against Surrey in 2001 – with two more in the next to claim an initial 10-for, they will have among the best young, left-arm spinners. Mark Cosgrove, the Leicestershire captain, went so far as describing him as “best article spinner in the overall game.” While that could be wishful thinking, he could be among the players that delivers hope of better times ahead for long-suffering Leicestershire supporters.
“Everyone’s attention was on Ashwin, but Parky outshone him without difficulty,” Cosgrove said. “He’s got an enormous future before him and hopefully we are able to obtain the pitch to show at Grace Road.”
They might do worse than study from Worcestershire. Although some clubs search for their cheque book if they need a player, Worcestershire turn to their youth teams. The England management and selectors talk of Rhodes as the utmost helpful and committed of most county coaches, mostly of the who never questions why a new player may be called right into a Lions squad or rested from the key match. He, and famous brands the academy coach Elliot Wilson are producing players who could serve their club and country with distinction. For that, the complete English game ought to be grateful. Promotion seems a just reward.
George Dobell is really a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo