County Champioship Div2 Yorkshire v Worcestershire at Headingley Sept 26-30th

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 2

AT 10.56, after 10 balls on 299, Worcestershire tail ender Josh Baker pushed Matt Milnes out on the offside for a couple to get the point that gained promotion to the first division exactly six years to the day since  Worcestershire last gained promotion to the first division.

His Worcestershire teammates stood and applauded the shot while he hugged Ben Allison.  It was to be the best two he scored because he spooned the next ball to Matt Revis at mid on. Worcestershire captain  Brett D’Oliveria said: “Baker said ‘he had done his job and that’s his best two that he has ever scored.’ It’s an amazing feeling, something  we’ve worked hard to achieve and it’s a relief to get over the line.  The boys have been tremendous and worked hard all through the year.  I am extremely pleased to  get over the line and win promotion.  In the past we’ve been up and down so we’ve got to make sure that we prepare ourselves to stay up for a longer period. But you can’t get too high and low about the game of cricket

This group of lads are an awesome bunch and make my job as captain easy. I just change the bowlers. We are excited about going to the bigger counties and pitting our skills against the bigger boys, we’re really looking forward to that.

I feel that I am now in the history of Worcestershire county cricket because neither my dad or Granddad captained the team or gained promotion.”

Worcestershire head coach Alan Richardson said: “It’s something we talked about last November and to achieve that after a long hard slog all the boys will take satisfaction from it.  We have been down in games and we’ve come back to grind out results. It's how you react in game situations. It’s a real testament to the boys on how they have done it.  We are going to look at how we are going to stay up.

I was a player here and the supporters get behind the team no matter if they are doing well or not.  They get behind the team and encourage them.”

Resuming on 280 for five it took D’Oliveira two overs to reach his first century of the season and took Worcestershire three runs short of a second bonus point that would seal their promotion when he drove Milnes off the back foot to the cover boundary.  His ton came from 199 balls with 16 fours in 239 minutes.

Would the Worcestershire captain be the man to take his side back to the first division. One run short off 300 D'Oliveira tried to work Milnes off his legs and set off for a leg bye only to see umpire Steve O’Shaughnessy’s finger raised with Allison they added 74 in 20 overs.

D’Oliveira added: “It was extremely disappointing getting out when we needed that one run but I am just glad that I contributed to that total. It feels like a monkey off my back.  It's been frustrating not to get more hundreds this season but I am pleased to  have done it in this game.”

Alison and Joe Leach blitzed their way to a 79 run partnership in 14 overs.  Allison  flayed Milnes to the cover boundary to bring up his 50 from 87 balls with 10 fours.  Leach smashed Thompson to cover boundary which  in poor light substitute Ben Mike never moved.  In the next over he drilled Bess straight.  With the pair looking like they would see Worcestershire to their fourth bonus point Allison was beaten by the turn of Dom Bess and lost his off stump.

D’Oliveira said: “Allison has been a tremendous addition to the team and we’ll sit down and talk to him about staying.”

Ben Gibbon didn’t hang about before he edged Revis to Jonny  Tattersall in the next over.

Leach, who once smashed Yorkshire to all parts of Headingley in a 50 over match. went down the pitch to Bess and blasted him over wide long on for a six.  Two balls later he top edged a sweep of Bess and Ben Coad took a running catch at short fine leg.

Yorkshire batted for  22 minutes before lunch and five minutes after lunch before bad light and rain stopped play before play was abandoned at 2.56.

Day 3

YORKSHIRE  set up a possible victory charge on the final day by declaring  their first innings at tea 127 behind then they got an added bonus by getting a wicket with the first ball. Worcestershire opener  Roderick drove Ben Coad to Shan Masood at mid off.

Worse was to follow in the next over when  Worcestershire lost their second wicket when Milnes took the edge of Azhar Ali’s bat and Lyth at second slip took the catch at his bootstraps before bad light ended play at 4.26 with Worcestershire leading by  145 with eight second innings wickets left.

Yorkshire captain Shane Masood reflected on the season and the match so far: “The weather’s not been kind to us, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record. We thought that when we were batting, we would try and take the game on and score at a high rate to get as close to them as possible and, somewhere after the follow-on, declare. We still want to  play a competitive game. We’ve given them a competitive lead and we’re trying to get them out. Unfortunately bad light stopped play and we lost more overs.

We made a strong start with the ball, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. We’ll go in with the intention of trying to knock them over. If it doesn’t happen and they give us something, we’ll try and chase it. Whatever it is we’ll assess it and let common sense take over.

I’m very confident ahead of next year. During a break in play, I happened to look at a graphic of the table without our (48) points deduction. When I saw that, reality hit me that it could have been a very different season. But what’s happened has happened. If  we play cricket like we have this season consistently enough over 14 games next season, then I have no doubts that we will do well. There are a lot of key indicators in a team that drive you towards promotion. 

The most compelling ones are guys getting runs. We’ve had two guys close to 1,000 runs - Adan Lyth and Finlay Bean - and everyone else chipping in. We’ve had a few hundreds from every position and a lot of fifties. Those are good signs.The next thing is we’ve been good at getting 10 wickets. The next thing is how do we get 20 wickets? Those will be the key things going into next year.”

Play didn’t start until 11.15 on the third day because of a wet outfield and Yorkshire lost an early wicket when  Lyth, who  added one to his overnight score, was given out,  caught behind by umpire Steve O’Shaughnessy.  Lyth attempted to drive Joe Leach and it was only an half hearted appeal by Leach and the slip cordon but  O’Shaughnessy finger was raised.   Lyth couldn’t hide his disgust at the decision.

His partner  Bean saw his off stump knocked out of the ground when Ben Gibbon bowled him through the gate.  Gibbon got his second wicket in his next over when Yorkshire captain Shan Masood edged a drive off him to Josh Baker at second slip who caught the ball in his midriff.

Josh Wharton was comprehensively bowled by Dillon Pennington who squared him up and lost his off stump. When Wharton was bowled the prospect of saving the follow on looked a long way off but Yorkshire were indebted to three partnerships that saved the follow on. George Hill and Jonny Tattersall, then Hill with Matt Revis and finally Revis and Dom Bess.

After looking good and confident, adding 42 with Hill, Tattersall tried to turn Pennington to leg who sent his off stump cartwheeling out of the ground.

On 36 Hill did well to dig out a yorker from Ben Allison which broke his bat.  He reached his 50 when he drilled Leach off his legs to the mid wicket boundary.  But he hung his out to the next ball and was plumb leg before to give Leach his 450th first class wicket.

Leach said: “It was good to get my 450th but in the context of  the week it’s small fry. I’am extremely proud of it and all the emotions that came with it. To get promotion yesterday was the culmination of all the hard work we’ve  put in the season.  It's the third promotion that I’ve been involved with at Worcestershire.

Opening the bowler is not the easiest of jobs in cricket but I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.  I’ve just tomorrow to go and then I can put my feet up. I am contacted for next year but beyond that who knows.”

Revis drove Leach to the extra cover boundary for the shot of the day and swung his bat by  three consecutive fours off Gibbon to take him into the 40’s and cutting  Baker for a single to bring up his 50 from 65 balls with eight fours.

Bess played a couple of unconventional shots to get Yorkshire past the 200 mark.  He angled his bat to guide the ball to the third man boundary to bring up the 50 partnership with Revis in eight overs and  turned Gibbon off his legs for a single to avoid the follow on.

After Wednesday’s play Bess said: “It’s a belter of a wicket. It’s the ODI wicket. If there’s time to have a look at them with the ball, we will do that. The last two days have been quite rewarding considering the type of pitch we’re playing on. There’s not that much in terms of seam movement, and I’d probably call it anti-spin.”

Before play at an EGM Yorkshire members voted in favour of Harry Chathli’s election to the board.  It needs  the resolutions to be registered with the FCA before he can join the board as Chairman.

Day 4

A THIRD wicket partnership  of 164 in 30 overs between captain Shan Masood and Josh Wharton put Yorkshire on the verge of victory against Worcestershire but they couldn’t see the job done and it was left to a fifth wicket partnership of 84 between Jonny Tattersall and George Hill to see the Tykes home.

Both Shan Masood and Wharton departed the scene within two overs of each other  with Yorkshire needing 81 to win. Shan Masood hit his second LV County Championship century of the season as he hit 123 and Wharton fell 11 short off his first Championship century for Yorkshire. Their partnership was broken when Wharton played back to Josh Baker to late cut him but missed the ball and was bowled.  His  89 included three sixes and 10 fours.

Shan Masood pushed Baker to deep mid on for a single to bring up his 100 off 107 balls with fours. It was a typical Shan Masood innings, cool, calm, calculated, and the occasional chat to the nearest fielder at the bowler's end. On eight he  gave a hard return chance to  Ben Allison when the ball hit his right hand before he had time to react.

Just when he looked that Shan Masood would see Yorkshire home he pulled Baker to Ben Gibbon on the mid wicket boundary. His 123  came of 131 balls with 15 fours.

Shan Masood reached his 50 when he turned Joe Leach off his legs for a single off 57 balls.  Just before tea he drove Dillon i Pennington to the long off boundary for his shot of the day with just enough pace to keep the chasing Leach interested.  On 84 he was beaten by Pennington but got an inside edge which took the ball past the stumps to the fine leg boundary.

His partner Wharton went down on one knee and smashed Baker  straight for a six.  He rocked back to Gibbon and pulled him between two short mid wickets to the deep mid wicket boundary.  In the third over after tea he gently eased Pennington to the point boundary then he chipped Pennington over the mid wicket boundary for a six.

He placed Baker to long on for a single to bring up his 50 which included two sixes and six fours off 72 balls. In the next over he drilled Pennington to the long off boundary to bring up the 100 partnership.

Chasing 360 70 overs to win Yorkshire lost their first wicket with the score on 22 when Finlay Bean pushed forward at Pennington who took a knee high return catch. Adam Lyth turned Baker off his legs for a single to bring up his 1,000 championship run in the season for the fourth time. He reversed swept Baker to the third man boundary to bring up his 50 from 57 balls with seven fours.

He went down the pitch to Baker and drilled him to Jack Haynes at mid wicket who took a great catch diving to his right just when Worcestershire needed to.

The spectators who at the start were given an early surprise after ‘four overs in which Worcestershire added 11,  Bean was brought into the attack to bowl his gentle off spin and the next over Wharton was introduced.  The combination of joke bowling and fielding saw both Bean and Wharton conceed 100 runs.  Bean’s 10 overs cost him 101 runs and 108 runs came from Wharton’s 9.1 overs.  When Worcestershire declared on 232 setting Yorkshire 360 in 71 overs Haynes was unbeaten on 113 in his last innings for Worcestershire before he joins Nottinghamshire and Jake Libby was undefeated on 109.

It was Tattersall who hit the winning runs when he swept Baker to the fine leg boundary to give Yorkshire victory by six wickets with three overs to spare and Yorkshire finished seventh in Division Two.  The victory was Yorkshire’s first  Championship victory at Headingley for two years.

Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson said: “We’ve got to thank the Worcester boys for setting up something that could be chased down. To finish on a high is nice for both the players and the fans.  If we hadn’t had the points deduction we would have finished third but at least we are not going to finish bottom of the table and that gives us a lot of satisfaction.

I think that we have every chance of getting a promotion next year.  When I came here I had  a five year plan and that included becoming County champions in year four.

Shan Masood is a top player, he did it last for Derbyshire, he was selected for Pakistan in the middle of the season and we anticipated getting selected for Pakistan last month but he didn’t.  Hopefully we can have him  for a full season next year, if we have for a full season next year he’s guaranteed to score us 1,000 runs.

We wanted to perform well for the fans and it’s nice to see them happy.”


September 28, 2023 5:19 pm

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