When the intriguing comic book, ‘The League’ by Alan Moore was to be converted to the big screen, there was instant excitement. Worcestershire is no ‘The League’, with many predicting them for a prompt relegation. But the gallantry of their play during the first two days of the season opener against Champions Yorkshire meant that this was expected to be a contest which could go to the wire.
A depressing 35.3 overs later on the third morning they were 100 all out remarkably none of the fighting spirit of the first half of the match visible. The ending turned into as much a disappointment as the finished article of Moore’s novel ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.’ It doesn’t take anything away from the superiority on display by Steven Patterson (5/11), Jack Brooks (4/28) and Tim Bresnan though.
They made the absence of Ryan Sidebottom due to injury barely noticeable, as the ever impressive Brooks, who finished with nine wickets, accounted for the top order while Patterson siphoned the middle and the tail to the dressing room in double quick time.
The romp at the end by Alex Lees (52 not out) and Will Rhodes (45 not out) was the exclamation mark of an emphatic day for the Champions and Jason Gillespie, with the visibly demoralised home side offering nothing in resistance. In fact, the game was gone by then. It was the gone after the moment Gareth Andrew dismissed Tim Bresnan early morning to complete a five-wicket haul.
Bresnan started the rampage by trapping Richard Oliver for one, and then Brooks took over finding the edges of Moeen Ali, Daryl Mitchell and Alex Gidman to leave the Pears at 21/4 and staring at indignity. Mitchell and Gidman, talked up as the seasoned steel in a line-up packed with inexperience, failed to deliver in both innings.
First innings centurion Tom Fell and Tom Kohler-Cadmore belatedly attempted to revive an already broken guard, but the 5th wicket partnership lasted only 27 runs. The dismissal of Fell came three overs before the lunch break and probably the period for best batting conditions to come. Patterson was destructive, picking up Ben Cox in the same over for a duck. Andrew and Jack Shantry fought in unison but a fairy tale wasn’t forthcoming.
You could feel the angst in Shantry’s face when Charlie Morris got knocked over by Patterson, the realization filtering through that they have let down a strong crowd who turned up. Worcestershire will gain six points from this defeat, but what can’t be dispensed is that they could have got much more especially at the expense of a heavy-hitter like Yorkshire.
Too many soft stays in the middle and no grit insight.
A meek surrender, just like the Alan Quatermain who Sean Connery ultimately gave life to.
Man of the Match: Without a doubt, Jack Brooks is the deserve winner of this accolade with nine wickets in the match. The fast bowler was more than a match for the Worcestershire batting unit, taking the lead in the second innings absence of Ryan Sidebottom.