(writes Andrew Hignell)
Close of Play Report
Glamorgan had a minimum of 34 overs to face after tea and leave New Road with a draw after Chris Cooke and Joe Root had taken the score from 5-3 to 57-3 at the interval. Ed Barnard and Jake Libby resumed the bowling duties. Root cover drove Barnard for four before Cooke inside-edge a sharply turning ball from Libby as the Cornishman also found appreciable bounce and spin from the surface. Cooke also drilled Barnard through the covers for four just out of the grasp of a diving Jack Haynes.
With the odd ball also keeping low, the fourth wicket pair continued their watchful approach besides punishing anything loose with Cooke also on-driving a half-volley from Barnard to the boards at long-on before cover-driving a similar delivery from Libby. Leach continued to rotate his quicker bowlers as Dillon Pennington returned at the New Road End and removed Root who feathered a ball down the legside with Ben Cox completing a tumbling catch behind the stumps.
87-4 saw Tom Cullen join Cooke who cover-drove Libby to complete a 78-ball fifty. D’Oliveira then returned and was square-driven for a pair of fours by Cullen before Leach briefly returned to the fray shortly before the start of the final hour hoping to make further inroads before Daryl Mitchell, Charlie Morris and Jake Libby all had a trundle in a bid to break the stubborn stand.
Cooke and Cullen remained steadfast until the 40th over when the latter was trapped leg before by Morris. Dan Douthwaite replaced him having been stung by a wasp whilst fielding earlier in the day, but his day did not get any better as he was trapped l.b.w. by Libby to bag a pair with Glamorgan on 126-6. Graham Wagg became Cooke’s new partner and he continued the defiance as Worcestershire strove for further wickets.
Wagg drove Libby for four just over the head of the fielder at mid-wicket before Pennington returned for a final salvo and struck Cooke a blow on his forearm. He resumed after treatment but next over he played on to his stumps as a ball from Libby wickedly tricked back after he had played forward. Cooke departed for a defiant 74 with Bull joining Wagg for the last seventeen balls. The pair remained defiant as the game ended in a draw with Glamorgan on 141-7.
With Worcestershire on 228-4 at lunch their lead stood at 309 with a minimum of 61 overs remaining and the home side opted to continue batting for a further eight overs as Kieran Bull and Graham Wagg continued the bowling duties with the latter back in his normal mode and removing d’Oliveira with his third delivery as the batsman edged into Cooke’s gloves to give the Glamorgan captain the eighth victim of the game.
Two balls later Cooke claimed his ninth dismissal as Riki Wessels also edged behind trying to run the ball down to third man to equal the Club wicket-keeping record held jointly by Colin Metson who took nine in the games with Worcestershire at Worcester in 1993 and Surrey at The Oval, 1995, as well as Mark Wallace who achieved the feat against Derbyshire at Colwyn Bay, 2016 and in the game with Worcestershire at New Road in 2016.
Ben Cox drilled Wagg for four through the covers before hoisting him over mid-wicket for six and into the Pavilion seating but Bull, who had delivered a frugal spell throughout the morning at the Diglis End, continued in parsimonious mode, conceding just a series of singles until Jack Haynes lofted him into and out of Nick Selman’s hands at long off with the ball spilling away for four. Cox also lapped Wagg to fine-leg for four before flaying him to long-on and mid-wicket for further boundaries whereupon the home side declared leaving Glamorgan a notional target of 358 from 51 overs.
The home bowlers were soon amongst the wickets as the Welsh county nosedived to 5-3 in the fifth over. Firstly, Joe Leach struck with his second delivery as Selman departed l.b.w. before Dillon Pennington had Kiran Carlson caught behind with a sharply rising delivery. Three balls later, Leach claimed his second wicket as Charlie Hemphrey was also adjudged leg before as he shouldered arms to the home captain.
Billy Root scored the first four of the innings as he guided Pennington through the gully for four before Leach, in his fifth over, conceded his first runs as Cooke cover drove successive deliveries from his opposite number. Charlie Morris then replaced Pennington at the New Road End and found the outside edge of Cooke’s bat with the ball bisecting second and third slip before speeding away to the unmanned boundary.
D’Oliveira’s leg breaks were then employed at the Diglis End with plenty of footmarks on both side of the pitch. Root was unperturbed as he sweetly cover-drove the first delivery before reverse-sweeping his third as he acquired another four, followed by flicks to fine-leg and square-leg in Morris’ next over. Root also savagely cut Pennington for four with off-spinner Jake Libby also bowling the final over before the interval and being cover-driven by Cooke.
History has a funny habit of repeating itself with Glamorgan’s supporters hoping that a good omen ahead of today’s proceedings was that the Welsh county were victorious the last time an opposing side had to end their innings because of restrictions on the number of overs in an inter-county match. That was in early August 1980 when Kent pulled in on 301-7 after 100 overs at Canterbury before Glamorgan rallied in their second innings and mounted a successful run chase to win by three wickets.
Such a scenario is a possibility today at New Road where Worcestershire, having reached 455-8 in the 120 over allocation, had extended their first innings lead to 179 by the close of play last night with home captain Joe Leach who came in as night-watchman last night having been caught playing forward to the final ball of the day delivered by Kieran Bull who extracted some generous turn from the parched surface. Tom Fell was Daryl Mitchell’s next partner as play resumed under clear blue skies at 1100 with Michael Hogan bowling at the New Road End in tandem with Bull at the Diglis End. Fell opened his account by pulling and on-driving Hogan for successive fours as the lead reached the 200-mark. Mitchell also nurdled Bull for four to backward point besides unfurling a pair of fluent cover-drives against Hogan as the pair continued to accumulate and quietly build Worcestershire’s lead.
Bull continued to extract some assistance from the surface with his cleverly-flighted off-breaks whilst Mitchell also glanced Hogan to fine-leg for four before Timm van der Gugten returned in place of the evergreen bowler at the New Road End. Bull also had a loud appeal for l.b.w against Fell turned down by the umpire before next over the batsman pulled the spinner for four. Mitchell also square-cut van der Gugten for four whilst Fell dabbed the Dutchman to third man for another boundary before edging a glance down the leg-side against van der Gugten and giving another tumbling catch for Chris Cooke.
Mitchell was then joined by Jack Haynes as he approached what would have been his sixth century against Glamorgan, but it was not to be as on 94 he was lured down the wicket by Bull and smartly stumped by Cooke. 197/4 saw Brett d’Oliveira make his way to the middle as Graham Wagg replaced van der Gugten at the New Road End and was pulled for four by Haynes before the new batsman cover drove Bull. The pair also scampered some quick singles as the lead reached the 300-mark shortly before the lunch interval as Wagg reverted to left-arm spin in the final over of the session.