White-ball success dominated Worcestershire’s season, but they struggled to challenge in the County Championship, with Moeen Ali an undoubtable stand-out after his return.
A mixed season for Worcestershire finished with them falling just short of defending their Vitality Blast silverware on Final’s Day. The Pears showcased some phenomenal talent throughout their white-ball campaigns, however in red-ball, there are improvements to be made. The side finished in 9th place in Division Two.
Limited overs cricket was where Worcestershire really shone this season, finishing in second place of the North group in the RLODC. They departed the competition in the quarter-finals, unable to beat the eventual champions, Somerset.
Their group games were polar opposite to how their knockout game played out, qualifying with six wins and the highest net run-rate of the tournament. With only Nottingham qualifying ahead of them, who also lost their knock-out match to Somerset, there is a plethora of positives to be taken from their One-Day campaign.
In the Vitality Blast, returning to the prestigious Final’s Day as reigning champions, they lost the Final to Essex in an extremely closely fought final match of the season. But that was not where Worcestershire’s drama started that day – they reached their second consecutive final after beating Notts Outlaws earlier in the day by just 1 run.
The Outlaws looked nailed on for victory after an explosive start by Alex Hales, but Pat Brown and Ed Barnard got the Pears back into the game, defeating the strong opposition in an unlikely finish.
They had an impressive finish in the group, ultimately finishing fourth after having played excellent cricket throughout the tournament. There were some comprehensive wins by a team undoubtedly strengthened by the return of Moeen Ali.
Having qualified in fourth, they secured an away semi-final, in which they faced tournament favourites, Sussex Sharks, at Hove. They went into the affair underdogs, but pulled through to complete an 8 wicket victory. It wasn’t to be on the day, however, as Ravi Bopara proved why he is a legend in every Essex’s fan eyes as he guided his side to their first T20 title, Worcestershire’s dreams of defending the title destroyed.
In red-ball cricket, there was little to cheer about from New Road, finishing second from bottom in Division Two, having completed just three victories in their first season back in the bottom flight. With unlikely campaigns coming from Glamorgan and the promoted Northamptonshire, they didn’t have the strength and depth in the long-format to compete with the higher caliber teams, and the loss of Ali for a part of the red-ball campaign didn’t help them.
Ultimately, there is plenty of white-ball triumph for the Pears to reflect upon this season. Even though they were devastated after their defeat on Final’s Day, some incredible performances came from the Midland’s side this year.
They will be disappointed to not replicate that success in the red-ball format and fall so short in their chase for promotion.
SCCC: 9th place Division Two
Vitality Blast: Runners up, 4th in North Group
RLODC: Knocked out in quarters, finished 2nd in North Group
SCCC: Charlie Morris, 44 wickets @ 21.47
Vitality Blast: Pat Brown , 17 wickets @ 24.76
RLODC: Wayne Parnell, 22 wickets @ 18.86
SCCC: Riki Wessels, 593 runs @ 28.23
RLODC: Hamish Rutherford, 317 runs @ 63.4
Vitality Blast: Riki Wessels, 461 runs @ 35.41
Player of the season
It is hard to look past the superstar that is Moeen Ali for player of the season, performing when his side needed him and showcasing ample talent on the big stage when it mattered. Cricket hadn’t been kind to him on the international stage, but he couldn’t have fit back into his county side in a better way.
His first game back was against old rivals, Warwickshire, striking 85 not out against the Bears to destroy the enemy’s chances of progressing in the Blast. He then hit a destructive 121* in their quarterfinal against Sussex to ensure his side made Final’s Day.
Riki Wessels and Daryl Mitchell deserve clear recognition for their efforts as well, with Wessels top scoring in both the county game and the Blast, and Mitchell consistently performing like the veteran he is throughout all formats.
Charlie Morris returned from an absence in the game after a break, remodeling his action in brilliant fashion. He became their leading wicket-taker in their County Championship, as well as being an integral part of their T20 side. On Final’s Day, despite not taking any wickets, he showed excellent control with his bowling and restricted the opposition very well.
A strong white-ball cricket, dominating many sides however cant hide away from red-ball struggles.