Bob Willis Trophy - 1 August 2020
Worcestershire won by 8 wickets
Venue: Bristol County Ground
Gloucestershire v Worcestershire
Worcestershire seal eight-wicket victory over neighbours Gloucestershire in the Bob Willis Trophy Central Group.
Afforded hope by George Hankins' battling innings of 69, Gloucestershire were 73 runs ahead with four second-innings wickets in hand when Worcestershire's captain took the second new ball.
Sensing one final opportunity to force the issue, Leach took matters into his own hands, single-handedly eradicating the tail and finishing with figures of 4-70 as the home side were dismissed for 270.
Set 110 to win in 35 overs, Worcestershire reached their target with 8.5 overs to spare, Tom Fell and Jack Haynes staging an unbroken stand of 53 for the third wicket after Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby had afforded the chase a sound start.
Commencing the final day on 135-3, still 26 runs behind, Gloucestershire were indebted to Hankins, whose patient four-hour vigil occupied 195 balls, yielded 69 runs and served to frustrate Midlands ambition. Together with nightwatchman Josh Shaw, who traded almost exclusively in boundaries in making 21, Hankins first helped Gloucestershire eradicate their overnight arrears.
No sooner were the hosts back in credit though, than Shaw succumbed, trapped lbw by Josh Tongue.
Undeterred, Hankins continued to apply himself to the business of steady accumulation, going to 50 via 147 balls, his innings a perfect template for what was required in the circumstances.
No doubt encouraged by memories of Gloucestershire's first-innings collapse, Leach continued to ring the changes, and his imaginative decision to call upon occasional bowler Daryl MItchell paid instant dividends when Ryan Higgins played at and missed a straight ball that rapped him on the back pad.
Worcestershire certainly fancied their chances when removing the hitherto adhesive Hankins shortly after lunch, Tongue cleverly setting him up and then pinning him lbw in his crease for 69. With him went Gloucestershire's best chance of staving off defeat.
Leach took the new ball soon afterwards and quickly accounted for the unfortunate Gareth Roderick, who offered no shot to a ball which appeared to be going high. Set to join the Worcestershire staff next season, Roderick beat a diplomatic retreat having contributed a modest nine.
When debutant Tom Price departed in identical fashion, pinned in his crease by Leach, Gloucestershire were 236-8 - just 75 in front - and deep in trouble. Worse followed, Jack Taylor offering a catch behind on 23 as the irrepressible Leach made it three wickets in as many overs.
Matt Taylor and David Payne hit out in a breezy last-wicket partnership of 31 to hold up the visitors, but their resistance was summarily ended when Leach uprooted the latter's off stump.
If Leach's new-ball heroics caught the eye, it was fellow seamers Tongue and Charlie Morris who laid the foundations for victory, these two taking six wickets apiece in the match.
Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson said:
"It was a missed opportunity. We did a lot of good work on the first day and should have gone on to make 300-plus. Unfortunately, we lost those wickets on the first day and were then under pressure.
"Fair play to Worcestershire - they played good cricket consistently and deserved to win. On the plus side, there are a few positive things we can take from this performance and build on. Chris Dent batted beautifully and George Hankins will take a lot of confidence from batting for that length of time.
"As a bowling unit, we failed to apply enough pressure and were unable to adhere to line and length for long enough. We'll brush ourselves down and be up for the next game against Warwickshire. It's good that the game is here, but we need to play better cricket."
Worcestershire seamer Charlie Morris struck a potentially crucial blow by removing Gloucestershire captain Chris Dent shortly before the close of play on day three of the Bob Willis Trophy Central Group match at the Bristol County Ground.
Having scored 67 to add to his first innings 92, Dent was again frustrating Worcestershire's hopes of engineering a winning position in the opening game of the season.
But that all changed when Morris had him caught behind in the early evening gloaming and the hosts finished the day on 135-3, still 26 runs behind with seven wickets in hand. Gloucestershire still have a good deal of work ahead of them if they are to save the game and the new ball, due after lunch tomorrow, could yet prove decisive.
Much will depend on George Hankins, who will resume on 38 not out in the morning, in partnership with nightwatchman Josh Shaw, who is yet to score.
Worcestershire had earlier added a further 205 runs to reach 428-5 in their 120 overs and establish a meaningful first-innings lead of 161, Brett D'Oliveira top-scoring with 91 not out, Jack Haynes registering a maiden first-class fifty and Ben Cox weighing in with a whirlwind unbeaten 48 from 32 balls.
Gloucestershire were immediately under pressure in their second innings, Miles Hammond and Graeme van Buuren departing in quick succession as the hosts slumped to 46-2. A cornerstone of Gloucestershire's batting, Dent refused to budge, raising his second half century of the match from 100 balls and staging a restorative partnership of 88 in 33 overs with Hankins. Morris made the key intervention with four overs remaining in the day and the paceman, the pick of Worcestershire's bowlers, now has six wickets to his name.
Looking to even things up when Worcestershire resumed on 223-2, still 44 in arrears, Gloucestershire enjoyed some early success with the new ball, removing Tom Fell, Riki Wessels and Haynes during the morning session. But their attempts to exert control were blown to the four winds after lunch.
Eager to impress in only his sixth first-class appearance and cement his place in the team, England Under-19 international Haynes shared in stands of 53 and 48 with Fell and D'Oliveira for the third and fourth wickets respectively. Initially circumspect, he faced 72 balls before hitting his first boundary, accelerating thereafter and going to a 110-ball 50 via his fourth four, punched through mid-wicket at the expense of David Payne.
He was out in the next over, pinned lbw by a delivery from Ryan Higgins that came back in to him. Fell had earlier perished lbw in the act of playing across the line to a straight one from Shaw, while Wessels fell into Matt Taylor's trap and was well held by van Buuren on the run at deep mid-wicket.
But any thoughts the home side might have entertained of restricting Worcestershire's middle order were quickly forgotten when D'Oliveira and Cox launched a fearsome assault, eight exhilarating overs after lunch spawning a remarkable 92 runs as the game dramatically switched into T20 mode.
D'Oliveira's progress was characterised by deft placement and quick running between the wickets as he registered a 79-ball half century. His next 41 runs occupied a mere 25 balls, the wicketkeeper-batsman taking advantage of some wayward bowling from Tom Price and Matt Taylor to garner 13 fours.
His partner in Blitzkrieg, Cox proved equally bullish, smashing a half dozen fours and lofting a length ball from Shaw straight back over the bowler's head for an imposing six as the runs flowed.
Gloucestershire captain Chris Dent said: "We needed that stand after losing a couple of early wickets. George (Hankins) and I managed to hang on in there and grind it out - it was all about batting time. We managed to do that, but I really wanted to score a big one to help the team get a draw or even a win. I've felt in decent nick after waiting so long to play this year, so hopefully that will continue.
There are not too many demons in the pitch and nothing so far to suggest that we cannot bat for a long time tomorrow. George Hankins has done well to hang in there and he needs to keep going when he pitches up tomorrow.
Worcestershire took the game away from us a little bit in that afternoon session and, with the new 120-over rule, we still have to find a way of dealing with opponents when they have wickets in hand late on."
Worcestershire openers Jake Libby and Daryl Mitchell restored parity on the second day of the Bob Willis Trophy match against Central Group rivals Gloucestershire at the Bristol County Ground.
Playing together for the first time, the pair staged a superb stand of 152, veteran campaigner Mitchell top-scoring with 80 and Libby making an impressive 77 on debut as Worcestershire reached the close on 223-2, just 44 behind with eight first-innings wickets in hand.
On a day when they might easily have wilted, Gloucestershire's bowlers stuck to their task admirably, Tom Price and David Payne making crucial interventions either side of the tea interval to remove Mitchell and Libby respectively.
Tom Fell and Jack Haynes reached the close unbeaten on 32 and 20 respectively and Worcestershire will have 38 overs more in which to build a lead on day three.
At one point in mid-afternoon, it looked as though Worcestershire's new opening pair would both go onto register hundreds on an increasingly docile surface. An authoritative presence, Mitchell was first to 50, reaching that landmark via 101 balls with 9 fours. Making up for lost time after waiting nine months to make his debut following his switch from Nottinghamshire, Libby adopted a supporting role until plundering three boundaries in one Ryan Higgins over to pass 50 in a flurry.
Their partnership realised three figures in 37 overs and, when Gloucestershire skipper Chris Dent turned to spin, Graeme van Buuren was hit out of the attack.
Instead, it was Academy product Price who made the much-needed breakthrough, Mitchell dragging a bottom edge onto his stumps in the act of pulling to provide the youngster with his maiden first class wicket on debut. Having faced 161 balls and accrued 13 fours to move to within sight of what would have been a fifth hundred made in matches against Gloucestershire, Worcestershire's most experienced batsman was understandably frustrated at the manner of his dismissal.
Cornishman Libby scored a hundred on debut for Nottinghamshire against Sussex at Trent Bridge in 2014 and was intent upon becoming only the twelfth player to do so for Worcestershire when he became becalmed in the face of tight bowling after tea. Losing vital momentum, he was caught in the slips when pushing at a slanting delivery from David Payne as the visitors slipped to 180-2.
He may have missed out on a coveted hundred, but Libby showed why Worcestershire were so keen to recruit him last winter in a well-organised innings which spanned 181 balls and included 10 fours.
Gloucestershire's quintet of seamers mustered a disciplined line and length in a final session which yielded a mere 62 runs in 29 overs. Required to rebuild the innings and set a base for the big hitters to come, Fell and Haynes survived without ever really kicking on.
Resuming on 246-8, Gloucestershire's tail-end resistance lasted just 30 minutes in the morning. Josh Shaw departed to the fifth ball of the day, Josh Tongue locating his outside edge and wicketkeeper Ben Cox taking an excellent tumbling catch low down in front of first slip.
Determined to make a good impression against Worcestershire, the county he has agreed to join next year, Gareth Roderick mustered lower-order resistance, plundering three boundaries off one Morris over to secure a second batting bonus point and hasten the advent of the new ball.
Morris removed Matt Taylor shortly afterwards, leaving the home side to reflect upon a dramatic decline which saw their last eight wickets go down for the addition of 62 runs inside 27 overs.
Of Gloucestershire's middle and lower order batsmen, only Roderick emerged with distinction, finishing unbeaten on 25, his resistance spanning 41 balls.
Gloucestershire seam bowler Tom Price said: "It was a case of aiming for the top of off stump and, although I didn't bowl quite as well as I would have liked, it was great to get my first wicket. Fortunately, Daryl Mitchell dragged the ball on and it was a big moment for me.
He's a very good player and it's a top scalp for me. It would have been nice had friends and family been here to see me take my first wicket, but then I'm used to playing in front of a handful of people in second XI cricket!
We tried really hard to restrict the scoring and managed to drag the rate back in that final session. We need to do more of that when we come back in the morning, because we cannot allow them to build a big lead."
It was an eventful opening day of the Bob Willis Trophy at the Bristol County Ground between Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
Chris Dent won the toss and top-scored with 92, while Graeme van Buuren made a swashbuckling 60 as Gloucestershire reached 205-2 to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
But Worcestershire's bowlers stuck to their task magnificently and Charlie Morris inspired a late fightback, claiming three victims in 18 balls to spark a slide in which the hosts surrendered six wickets for 38 runs in 18 overs, finishing the day on 246-8.
Leg spinner Brett D'Oliveira and seamer Josh Tongue weighed in with two wickets apiece, while Joe Leach got in on the act as Worcestershire displayed character aplenty to bounce back in style.
Playing his first competitive innings since leading his side to promotion to Division One of the County Championship 10 months earlier, Bristolian Dent was unfazed by Covid-19 restrictions and the absence of spectators, batting for four-and-a-half hours, facing 184 balls, accruing 9 fours and sharing in stands of 127 and 55 with van Buuren and George Hankins for the second and third wickets respectively.
While fellow opener Miles Hammond threw caution to the wind and perished for 14 at the hands of Tongue, caught at the wicket via an inside edge in the 12th over, Gloucestershire's captain was a model of circumspection, refusing to take risks against the new-ball bowlers Morris and Leach.
When Dent finally opened his shoulders and plundered three boundaries in one over at the expense of D'Oliveira shortly before the lunch interval, it signalled a change of gear. Aided and abetted by a growing number of bad balls from Worcestershire's ring-rusty change bowlers, the Bristolian made up ground on the dashing van Buuren and was first to reach 50.
The second wicket pair advanced their partnership to three figures in just 31 overs as runs continued to flow in the afternoon sunshine. Having survived a top-edged pull off D'Oliveira that fell between three converging fielders at mid-wicket when on 27, van Buuren made good his escape to post a 115-ball 50. The South African raised his bat to acknowledge a smattering of applause from residents in nearby flats and his team-mates on the pavilion balcony in an otherwise deserted ground.
van Buuren had scored 60 from 138 balls and accrued eight boundaries when leg spinner D'Oliveira lured him onto the front foot and yorked him with a flighted ball that dipped suddenly before clipping the top of the bails. D'Oliveira then halted Dent's hitherto serene progress by bowling him through the gate, while Hankins, having performed the hard yards in reaching 30, chopped the ball onto his stumps to present Morris with a deserved wicket.
Jack Taylor came and went without scoring, edging a Tongue delivery behind, while Morris accounted for Ryan Higgins and Tom Price in the same over as Gloucestershire's middle and lower order folded. Leach had David Payne caught at the wicket and the home side were thereafter indebted to Gareth Roderick and Josh Shaw, who held out when it looked as though the hosts might be dismissed before the close.
And all this after the strangest of days had earlier commenced with players from both sides observing a minute's silence as a mark of respect for the victims of Covid-19 and then taking the knee to register their support for inclusivity in cricket.
Gloucestershire captain Chris Dent said: "It's a shame things ended in the way they did. We did the hard yards and set things up nicely after a tricky start. But it needed me or Graeme (van Buuren) to go on and make a really big score and neither of us was quite able to do that.
Things have been a bit weird with Covid and we have not been able to prepare in the way we would like. That said, I felt good out there and would have liked to go on. He (Brett D'Oliveira) managed to get a good ball through me and there was nothing I could do about it. I think that was the turning point and, having broken the partnership, Worcestershire took their opportunity.
Losing six wickets in the final session was disappointing. We now have to dig in tomorrow and hope that Gareth Roderick and Josh Shaw can do a job for us."
Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bat.
Christopher Dent | Miles Hammond | Graeme van Buuren | George Hankins | Ryan Higgins | Jack Taylor | Gareth Roderick | Thomas Price | David Payne | Joshua Shaw | Matthew Taylor |
Daryl Mitchell | Jacob Libby | Thomas Fell | Jack Haynes | Brett D'Oliveira | Mattheus Wessels | Oliver Cox | Edward Barnard | Joseph Leach | Joshua Tongue | Charles Morris |
|Worcestershire win by 8 wickets||Gloucestershire second innings|
270 all out
|Worcestershire second innings|
113 - 2
|Gloucestershire First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||0b 3lb 10nb 0p 10w||23|
Fall of wickets
|Worcestershire First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||4b 12lb 8nb 0p 2w||26|
Fall of wickets
|Graeme van Buuren||12||1||40||0|
|Gloucestershire Second Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||13b 2lb 6nb 0p 3w||24|
Fall of wickets
|Worcestershire Second Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||1b 1lb 6nb 0p 0w||8|
Fall of wickets
|Graeme van Buuren||3||0||13||0|