Worcestershire 321 for 6 (Wessels 118, Whitely 62*, Dell 61) lead Durham 273 by 48 runs
With an impressive history of success across all formats, Riki Wessels was not short of possible destinations when he left Nottinghamshire at the end of last season. Yet he chose Worcester, much to the excitement of supporters who had seen his destructive qualities at first hand last summer.
Wessels smashed nine sixes in a Vitality Blast T20 match on this ground in August, in an 18-ball 55 that launched Nottinghamshire towards a five-wicket win, a rare setback in a campaign that ended with Worcestershire being crowned T20 champions for the first time.
New Road, he said, was his favourite ground outside Trent Bridge, which showed him to be a man of taste. As if to underline his liking for the place, he celebrated his first Championship appearance here by scoring his 23rd first-class hundred.
It was a typically energetic Wessels knock, one made with a constant eye for a gap in the field and a willingness to take the initiative. Before his arrival at the crease, Worcestershire were progressing at barely two an over against a disciplined and testing Durham attack. He doubled that almost on his own.
That is not intended as a criticism. Having lost Daryl Mitchell to the second ball of the innings on Tuesday evening, Worcestershire quickly suffered two more setbacks as a lively new ball spell from Matt Salisbury accounted for Tom Fell and nightwatchman Charlie Morris, leaving a rebuilding job in the hands of George Rhodes, whose struggle for form last year meant he had not played a Championship match in 11 months, and Josh Dell, a 21-year-old academy graduate making his debut. Their watchful approach was entirely the correct one.
Dell made a handsome start, executing a lovely late cut for four off Matthew Potts to get off the mark. The right-hander, born in the county at Tenbury Wells, was given his chance after carrying his bat for 131 in a Second XI match against a decent Lancashire attack last month, but he was never likely to imagine that the transition would be easy.
A Worcestershire collapse in the circumstances would not have been at all surprising but Rhodes and Dell stood firm and taking their side to 57 at lunch with no further losses was a commendable effort.
They were unable to maintain their defiance far into the afternoon session before Rhodes was pinned leg before by Ben Raine. But Dell was not to be shifted for some while, raising his bat to warm applause after his eighth boundary, steered to third man off Rushworth, took him to his half-century.
By this point he was playing second fiddle to Wessels, who had drawn on his depth of experience to take control away from Durham’s quintet of seamers for the first time in the day. He got into his stride with two consecutive boundaries off Salisbury and did the same to Potts in the next over.
Durham turned to Liam Trevaskis, a 20-year-old left-arm spinner playing in only his fourth first-class match, at which Wessels’s eyes lit up. Twice in four deliveries, he lofted the ball into the seats at the Diglis End, the second one ending in a dark corner somewhere and needing to be replaced.
Wessels was enjoying himself now. His fifty came up off 56 balls, including a third maximum off the unfortunate Trevaskis, and when he and Dell touched gloves to celebrate a 100-stand in 19 overs, Wessels had 73 of them.
Dell’s vigil ended on 61 off 175 balls when he was bowled by a ball of full length from Gareth Harte, before Wessels mistimed one to be caught at midwicket for 118 off 133.
Durham took the second new ball when it was due but did not profit from it. Instead, Ross Whiteley punished them for dropping him on five, when Salisbury spilled a boundary catch at long leg that sprang out of his hands as he landed, by muscling his way to an unbeaten 62, adding 85 unbroken with Ben Cox to give Worcestershire a lead of 48 to take into the third day.
Recent Match Report – Loughborough Lightning vs Lancashire Thunder, Women’s Cricket Super League, 25th Match
Loughborough Lightning 123 for 2 (Jones 66*) beat Lancashire Thunder 122 (Glenn 3-25, Gunn 3-14) by eight wickets
England wicketkeeper Amy Jones made her second half-century of the competition as Loughborough Lightning eased to an eight-wicket victory over Lancashire Thunder in their Kia Super League clash at Trent Bridge.
Watched by a crowd of more than 3,000 ahead of Nottinghamshire Outlaws’ game against Yorkshire Vikings in the Vitality Blast, opener Jones hit eight fours and a six in her unbeaten 66 as Lightning, already through to next Sunday’s Finals Day at Hove, saw out a sixth win in seven matches with 23 balls to spare.
Thunder, who have lost eight of their nine matches to finish bottom of the KSL table, have one more chance to register a first win when they take on Surrey Stars at Blackpool on Wednesday, having picked up their only points in a tie with Southern Vipers.
Vipers provide Lightning with their final league stage opponents at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday evening in which looks set to be a rehearsal of their likely semi-final meeting at Hove.
“I’m pretty happy to have been able to contribute,” said Jones. “I’ve been a bit quiet since the first game so I’m so pleased to have scored some runs today.
“It’s the first time I’ve played at Trent Bridge so it was pretty cool to make a score here. A lot of people came in early to watch, which was fantastic and it really felt like they were behind us. We’ve picked up some momentum going into the back end of the season and hopefully it holds us in good stead for Finals Day, so we’re really excited.”
Legspinner Sarah Glenn and England allrounder Jenny Gunn finished with three wickets each as Thunder were bowled out for 122 inside 20 overs, Sophia Dunkley top-scoring with 29. South African Sune Luus made 27 but Thunder’s other overseas players, Tahlia McGrath and Harmanpreet Kaur, were out in single figures, the latter for a first-ball duck.
Thunder had made a solid start after winning the toss and electing to bat, reaching 39 for one in the Powerplay overs. Glenn made a breakthrough for Lightning when she bowled Australian opener McGrath for five but Dunkley clubbed six and four off Jo Gardner’s medium pace in the sixth over.
Luus, having picked up three fours while the fielding restrictions were in place, lofted Gunn over the short straight boundary but when she attempted something similar in the same over was well caught by Georgia Adams, who made good ground to get under the ball at long-on.
Glenn then dealt Thunder a major blow when she bowled Indian star Harmanpreet for a golden duck and the Derby-born leggie claimed her third wicket when she held a return catch to dismiss Ellie Threlkeld to finish with 3 for 25 from her four overs, raising her tally in the tournament to nine wickets.
Thunder needed Dunkley to add to her two sixes but when she lost her leg stump to Gunn for 29 in the 12th over to leave her side 70 for five in the 12th over, their best chance of posting a competitive total seemed to have gone, although a lively partnership between Alex Hartley and Natalie Brown added 25 for the last wicket before the latter was run out off the penultimate ball of the 20th over.
The experienced Nottingham-born Gunn finished with three for 14 in front of her home crowd, while Gardner claimed her maiden KSL wicket when Ria Fackrell was stumped by Jones.
It was Jones who then set the pace for the Lightning chase, hitting 23 off as many balls as the Loughborough side kept exactly in tune with what was required by taking 39 without loss in the powerplay.
Thunder made a breakthrough in the 10th over, breaking the Jones-Atapattu partnership when offspinner Emma Lamb held a low return catch to dismiss the Sri Lankan for 26, but new batter Adams swept her first two balls for four and six as Lightning moved to 73 for one at the halfway stage.
Adams was caught at deep midwicket in the next over as Hartley and Brown put a temporary brake on the scoring but Jones then profited from sweeping Lamb before completing a 44-ball half century in the 14th over with Lightning needing only 25 from 38 balls.
Jones finished the match in style, lofting Hartley over long-on for six off the first ball of the 17th over.
Somerset part company with chief executive Andrew Cornish
Somerset are understood to have parted company with their chief executive, Andrew Cornish.
Despite an apparently successful season – Somerset retain hopes of completing a treble and have sold out every one of their home T20 Blast games – the club are concerned about a projected shortfall against their upbeat financial predictions.
At the start of the year, the club anticipated profits of £600,000 (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). In recent weeks, however, that has been downgraded to the extent that they may struggle to break even.
Somerset have declined to confirm or deny the news. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Cornish who only joined the club at the start of the 2018 season.
Cornish’s departure leaves the club in something of a flux at the top level. The chairman, Charles Clark, recently died meaning they are currently without a permanent chief executive or chairman.
Cornish’s predecessor, Lee Cooper, lasted less than a year in the role meaning the club are looking for their fourth chief executive within two years.
There is no sign of such turbulence on the pitch, however. Somerset, having won the Royal London Cup in May (their first trophy since 2005), are currently second in Division One of the County Championship and have a decent chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast. They have never won the County Championship title.
‘If you provide good pitches, Test cricket cannot be boring’ – Sachin Tendulkar
Test cricket can be more exciting if it is played on good pitches, former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has said, calling the surfaces the format’s “heart” and key to its revival.
Tendulkar cited the surface used for the Ashes Test at Lord’s last week as an example, especially the competitive phase of play between Steven Smith and Jofra Archer.
“The heart of Test cricket is the kind of surface that you play on. If you provide good pitches, cricket cannot be boring, cricket cannot be damp, and [there will always] be those exciting moments, exciting bowling spells, great batting, and that is what people want to see,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar felt the duel between Archer and Smith, which included a nasty bouncer from the fast bowler that struck Smith on the neck, got viewers hooked and made Test cricket thrilling to watch.
“Smith got injured unfortunately, that was a big blow to him but Test cricket was exciting when Jofra Archer challenged him, it suddenly became exciting and the focus shifted to Test cricket.
“At Lord’s, they lost almost a day and half, but the Test match got exciting even on the last day when England picked [up] those wickets and Australia had to survive. Test cricket suddenly became exciting and that is how it should be.”
Following the World Cup, teams have turned their focus to the inaugural World Test Championship, which started with Australia taking on England in the Ashes.
“People almost kind of forgot that four-five weeks ago, there was World Cup being played in England, nobody is talking about that, everyone is talking about Test cricket,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar, who is the highest run-scorer in Tests with 15921 runs from 200 Tests, emphasised the need to prepare “interesting tracks” to revive interest in the longest format.
“I think Test cricket is going to revive if we produce interesting tracks, but if the tracks are flat and dead then Test cricket is going to find its challenges. I know this World Test Championship has been announced but even to have this World Championship, you’ve got to make cricket interesting, just by having another championship, cricket is not going to get interesting.
Tendulkar also stressed on the art of leaving and defending the ball while heaping praise on Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne. After his defiant 59 at Lord’s coming in as Smith’s concussion substitute, he made a well-crafted 74 and 80 at Headingley, pulling Australia out of trouble on all three occasions.
“I have been watching a little bit of Ashes and I thought someone like Marnus Labuschagne has left the ball brilliantly, which is something that you don’t get to see in Test cricket. Normally you tend to glide those balls to third man and pick [up] a single. But the kind of surfaces they are playing on, if you steer the ball you go to the dressing room.
“You need to leave those balls or defend solidly. And the guys who have not been able to do that, they have been watching the game from the dressing room.”
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