Matt Henry signed off his County Championship stint with Worcestershire in style with 5-36 as his county rolled over Northants to claim a substantial 311-run victory inside three days at Wantage Road.
Set 454 to win after Worcestershire had declared their second innings on 324-8 on the third morning, Northants never looked like challenging the hefty total, dismissed inside 36 overs for 142, having only manged six more first time around.
None of the top order could make an impression as they slid to 62-6, Henry with four of the first six to fall, and only cameos from Steven Crook and Seekkuge Prasanna took the total into three figures, putting Worcestershire second in Division Two, a point behind leaders Essex.
Such a victory looked unlikely when Worcestshire were reduced to 54-5 on the first morning, but director of cricket Steve Rhodes praised the attitude of his side, who dominated the rest of the match, and said Henry’s tally of eight wickets for deserved for his performances over his spell.
“I’m really delighted, our approach and attitude was outstanding this game,” he said. “Testament to the character of the guys, they’re guys who have got points to prove and want to play for each other.
“We showed good character in the middle order, Ben Cox and Joe Leach to get the runs that they did, I think we were very happy with that win, we dominated the game after being 50-5 and totally deserved that.
“I still haven’t looked at a table but we are [in the race for promotion], I just think of the next game and trying to win that one, if you keep winning games you’ve got a great chance.
“He [Henry] came into this game late, as Kyle Abbott’s foot swelled up, he’s been a very popular person in the dressing room, he’s been terrific. He’s actually bowled well and now got the rewards so to get five at the end is probably just reward for something he should have got earlier on.
From the moment Ross Whiteley and Ben Cox embarked on the 129-run sixth wicket partnership that took the first innings total to 277, the visitors dominated the contest
They began the final morning 181-4, already 310 runs ahead and despite Steven Crook’s two wickets, Whiteley’s 45, together with handy contributions from nightwatchman Ed Barnard and George Rhodes set up a declaration shortly before the lunch interval.
With three overs to see out, Ben Duckett, deputising as captain for the injured Alex Wakely, was caught at short leg off Brett D’Oliveria from the last ball before the interval, and that set the tone for what was to come.
Despite rain truncating the afternoon session, Rob Keogh was bowled by Henry whilst Adam Rossington and Rob Newton were both caught behind as Northants went into tea 40-4.
Richard Levi and David Murphy quickly followed after the interval, both to Henry, and although Crook and Prasanna played their shots in cameos of 33 and 31 respectively, they both fell on their sword, and the display was perhaps summed up when last man Monty Panesar was run out after a mix-up with Mohammad Azharullah.
“To lose a game by 300 runs when the opposition are 50-5 on the first day takes a bit of doing really,” Northants’ head coach David Ripley admitted. “We were very poor in most elements, one or two individuals escaped with their pride intact but the majority of the lads have underperformed.
“The two defeats we’ve had have been crushing and we’ve been meek and folded in both those games and that’s not the kind of cricket we want to produce, and I just want to see more desire.
“The disappointment’s there, these lads are a passionate group and we do care a great deal but sometimes you’ve got to show you care a little bit more and dig a bit deeper and we haven’t done that over these three days.”