Glamorgan come from behind to defeat Worcestershire by three wickets.
Glamorgan came out on top of a game in which fortunes fluctuated throughout the four days. The Welsh county had started the final innings of the match, just before lunch on day three, needing what seemed an unlikely target of 332 given what had gone before.
Glamorgan made a stuttering start, with batters making significant contributions to their downfall. David Lloyd pushed a simple catch to mid-off, Eddie Byrom lobbed the ball up from an attempted reverse sweep and Sam Northeast top edged a cut to third man. Kiran Carlson then edged a rising delivery from Dillon Pennington into the safe hands of Gareth Roderick and at 133/4 Worcestershire looked to be pressing home the advantage they had built up over the first two days.
Billy Root then joined Colin Ingram and the two wrested back control, putting on 95 for the fifth wicket. Ed Barnard trapped Ingram lbw just before the close, setting up an exciting final day, with Glamorgan needing 100 runs and Worcestershire five wickets for the respective wins.
This was a turnaround from the opening two days which had been dominated by Worcestershire, through the efforts of Ed Barnard and Joe Leach. Worcestershire were put in by Glamorgan on the morning of day one and that decision bore fruit as Michael Neser and Michael Hogan caused problems for the Worcestershire top order. In conjunction with the change bowlers, David Lloyd and James Harris, they reduced Worcestershire to 63/5. The pitch, throughout the game, rewarded good seam bowling, with pace and bounce.
Worcestershire then wrested back control through the efforts of Roderick and Barnard, who combined to put on 120 against some less disciplined Glamorgan bowling. Roderick was bowled by Harris for 46, but Barnard was able to add a further 88 with the tail and when he was out for an excellent 131, Worcestershire had reached 271.
Worcestershire have sorely missed the services of Joe Leach in recent matches, out with a back injury since the beginning of May. He was keen to make up for lost time, bowling a devastating opening spell that reduced Glamorgan to 32/3 by the close of day one. He took two more wickets early on on day two and Glamorgan were reduced to 38/5. The only significant resistance came from Eddie Byrom, who was last out having made 57. Only two other batters reached double figures and Leach added a further wicket to finish with career best figures of 6/44.
Worcestershire, starting their second innings with a 132 run lead and after the early loss of Ed Pollock, Jake Libby and Azhar Ali set about accumulating a match winning lead. However, the Glamorgan bowers were able to keep a lid on the run scoring and when they both fell just short of half centuries there followed a steady procession of batters back to the pavilion. Worcestershire finished on 199, the last nine wickets having fallen for just 107 runs. Neser and Hogan were again the pick of the bowlers, Neser finishing with match figures of 7/90.
Root appeared to be the key to Glamorgan’s hopes as he and Harris strode out to bat on the morning of day four. Worcestershire took the new ball straight away, but Root moved on to his half century with a boundary off Leach. The bowler hit back with the wicket of Harris in the ninth over of the day and at 255/6 the target was still 77 runs away. Tom Cullem joined Root and together they put on 38 before Leach struck again, Fell taking a diving catch at second slip.
39 runs were still needed, but Neser took the attack to the Worcestershire bowlers and guided Glamorgan over the line, scoring 26 off just 29 balls. Root fell just short of the century his performance undoubtedly deserved, but he will not have been bothered as Glamorgan registered their fourth win of the campaign.
Worcestershire will wonder how this game got away, but Glamorgan will feel they can build on this result to push hard for promotion. They move to within 12 points of second placed Middlesex, who held on comfortably against Nottinghamshire, having been asked to follow on. Meanwhile Derbyshire slipped back, suffering defeat to Sussex, who chased down a target of 342 with five wickets to spare.
We are back to T20 for the next ten days, but it will be difficult to beat the tension created by this four day game.