Specsavers County Championship – Live Match Updates July 21st-July 24th 2019
All the match updates from the latest round of Specsavers County Championship 2019 starting July 21st-July 24th 2019
Gloucestershire v Worcestershire Cheltenham College 11:00AM
Gloucestershire 354 and 184
Worcestershire 293 and 232
Result - Gloucestershire won by 13 runs
Ryan Higgins claimed four wickets as Gloucestershire moved into the Second Division promotion places with a nerve-jangling 13-run victory over Worcestershire at Cheltenham.
Set 246 to win, the visitors looked on course at 229 for seven before Higgins struck twice in quick succession for an heroic Gloucestershire seam attack, deprived of Matt Taylor by injury.
The prolific all-rounder finished with four for 64 as for the second time at this year’s Festival a Championship game went right down to the wire. Worcestershire were bowled out for 232, despite an impressive contribution from Callum Ferguson (63), while Riki Wessels and Ben Cox who both made 42.
Gloucestershire took 23 points from the game to move joint second in the table, while Worcestershire had to settle for five.
A gripping final day began with the hosts looking to add to a disappointing second innings total of 149 for eight, 210 in front, and take some time out of the game.
Ninth-wicket pair David Payne and Ethan Bamber took their stand to 40, adding 34 as Worcestershire surprisingly opted to open with the leg spin of Brett D’Oliveira from the Chapel End, rather than an all-seam attack.
Payne had moved to 22 when caught at short cover driving a ball from Ed Barnard. Adam Finch then replaced D’Oliveira, who had conceded 20 off five overs, and quickly had the injured Taylor caught behind to end the innings at 184.
Worcestershire’s bid to reach their target got off to the worst possible start when Daryl Mitchell edged the first ball from Payne thorough to wicketkeeper James Bracey.
But Wessels then took charge of a second-wicket partnership of 73 with Ferguson, making a positive 42 off 44 balls, with 5 fours and a six.
The stand ended on the stroke of lunch when Wessels took one chance too many and was caught behind attempting to cut left-arm spinner Tom Smith.
The afternoon session saw Barnard give Bracey a third catch, wafting at a short ball from Higgins, who had switched to the College Lawn End after conceding 24 runs from his first two overs.
When Higgins had Ross Whiteley lbw for a duck after several loud appeals had been rejected, Worcestershire were 100 for four and the game was in the balance.
The cool head of Ferguson then took control, well supported by Cox in a partnership of 81 in 28 overs, the 35-year-old Aussie reaching his half-century just before tea, having faced 99 deliveries and hit 5 fours.
He and Cox had taken the score to 146 for four and continued in the same way after the break, adding a further 35 before Cox blotted his copybook by driving a catch to mid-on off Bamber.
Without left-arm seamer Taylor, Higgins, Bamber and Payne, supported by Smith and Benny Howell, stuck to their task valiantly. When Cox was dismissed, 65 runs were still needed.
It was Howell, who ended Ferguson’s resistance with the score on 189, finding an outside edge through to Bracey, standing up to the stumps, as the batsman looked to play off the back foot.
Howell had taken two for two in three overs from the College Lawn End when D’Oliveira was pouched at slip by substitute fielder George Hankins with 48 needed.
Leach and Parnell looked to be closing in on victory when Higgins struck twice in an over, bowling both Parnell and Dillon Pennington, with 17 still required.
One run later Leach edged Higgins just short of Bracey and amid almost unbearable tension the game ended when Adam Finch looked to pull a short ball from Payne and only succeeded in getting a top edge to Hankins at second slip.
Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson, who lived every ball of the final hour with his team from the press balcony, said: "The last few years at Cheltenham have been exciting, but nothing to match what we have seen over the past two weeks.
"Today was exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally, but worth all that to get the result. I thought there was some good captaincy and some terrific bowling, which we needed to produce being a bowler light.
"I don't look at the table much because every time I do a lot has changed with everything is so tight. We will now put the red ball away for a bit, with Cheltenham having again proved a tough period, and it will be great to go into the back end of the season in a good position.
"There are still things we can sharpen up on. We didn't convert decent positions in one or two games recently, but here we have managed to do so and that is very satisfying."
Worcestershire head coach Alex Gidman, a former Gloucestershire player, said: "It has been a great game of cricket and both sides applied themselves really well.
"One hundred per cent credit to Gloucestershire, particularly the way they played today. They kept persisting and gave us nothing.
"We tried to hang in there and take the match as deep as possible, thinking that at some stage they might tire through being a bowler down. But they just kept at us all the time and it got harder and harder to score on that pitch.
"Unfortunately, we didn't have enough batting skills to get us over the line."
©Cricket World 2019