Welcome back, everyone! I hope you had a nice Christmas and New Year break.
So, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we’re back to real cricket.
It’s my beloved proper side, back together at last. Stiaan van Zyl captains, Travis Head is back, David Wiese is fit and Ravi Bopara is – somehow- averaging 30 with the bat and 39 with the ball.
Worcestershire aren’t terrible, are they? Moeen Ali, Jake Libby, lots of decent professionals. But, if we’re going to narrow this gap and seize promotion against the bookies’ expectations, we need to win this.
And we make a surprising start by winning the toss.
I’ll have a bat thanks.
We begin positively. Luke Wells and Philip Salt looking unthreatened. In fact, so in control do they look that Worcs are forced to make a bowling change early.
It works. Joe Leach draws Wells in, the edge is pouched by Daryl Mitchell at first slip for a straightforward dismissal. 34-1
Salt is also looking settled.
Of course he’s also next out. Gone for 23 off 37 caught behind by Ben Cox off Leach who now has 2 for 10. 43-2.
The upside is this brings Head to the wicket. I love watching this pair bat together. It’ll either win us the game or herald doom.
Well, they take the invitation to take their time and settle in seriously. We reach lunch 98-2, the batsmen not out and settling for one and twos.
Unfathomably, Head then gets run out. Van Zyl miscues a forward defensive, decides to run, the stumps get rifled down. What a waste. 105-3.
That brings Ravi to the wicket. Patrick Brown comes in, bowls, splatters his stumps like a Jackson Pollock. 105-4.
Thanks Ravi. You 35 year old bellend who is going to have to get an apprenticeship with a bunch of 16 year olds next year WHEN I CANCEL YOUR CONTRACT, YOU BOTTLING FUCK.
Van Zyl nearly runs new partner Ben Brown out for good measure, but does progress to his half century so I’ll let him off.
He goes eventually – to Leach, naturally grrr – for 65 off 145 balls. The sort of responsibility that has been sorely lacking from our batting. 152-5
Brown was also looking like he had that sort of temperament. Then he jabs one to Tom Fell off his toes at slip, and Simi Singh has a wicket. 152-6.
At least Mitchell Claydon got a boundary last ball of the over to deny him a wicket maiden.
Claydon – lbw Leach – 6
George Garton. Another golden duck. 167-8.
Leach now has figures that would make Curtly Ambrose blush: 15-3-48-5 3.20
I tell my bowlers to make sure they smash his fingers to splinters when he’s batting.
Poor Wiese gets bowled by Brown but his 18 off 20 has been handy here. 178-9
We make it to tea. Just.
Can Will Beer and Stuart Meaker be the most unlikely batting heroes in history?
Shouldn’t think so for one horrible minute.
Nope. Meaker carries his bat and ends not out for 15 but Beer goes to Brown for 5.
We’re all out for a paltry 199. It’s nothing like a platform.
We set our plans, we keep it tight. Honestly, not a lot happens.
Daryl Mitchell is number 2 and he lets our bowlers get all kinds of on top of him.
Jake Libby, however has been brisk in moving into the 30s.
Meaker strikes first ball of his second spell to dislodge Mitchell for 13 off 50 balls. They’re 49-1 but not exactly looking troubled.
We nearly get rid of Libby last ball of the day but the umpire waves away as it pitched a gnat’s fart outside the line.
They finish day one 77-1.