Published On: Mon, Apr 30th, 2018

Ball's England form leaves Worcestershire bereft

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Nottinghamshire 300 for 9 dec (Taylor 50, Tongue 4-81) beat Worcestershire 110 (Clarke 42, Fletcher 5-27) and 149 (Fell 37, Ball 5-59) by an innings and 41 runs
Scorecard

It is only seven months these sides were promoted together from Division Two of the County Championship but the gulf in class between them was startling in a one-sided affair that was completed in just five sessions.

Worcestershire, who went up as Second Division champions, were routed twice in the equivalent of just two sessions by a high quality attack who made expert use of a slow seaming pitch.

Stuart Broad, playing his first match of the season, played his part, surviving a mid-pitch collision with Luke Fletcher along the way, but he was not Worcestershire’s chief tormentor. Instead it was Jake Ball, another member of England’s Ashes attack, who wrecked their second innings by taking his second five wicket haul of the season.

Worcestershire have now lost all three matches since they were promoted for the sixth time and with a trip to the Oval this week followed by the visit of reigning champions Essex, things are unlikely to get any easier.

Kevin Sharp, who was installed as head coach following the sacking of Steve Rhodes during the winter, had some difficult times during his time as Yorkshire’s batting coach but preventing Worcestershire from being relegated after just a season in the top flight for the fifth time may yet prove to be his biggest challenge.

“We know that there are some really top sides in this division. Division One sides are more experienced and they have strength in depth but there lies the challenge. If we didn’t know before we certainly do now about what is expected,” Sharp said.

After a lengthy post-match team Sharp announced that five of his punch drunk top six – Travis Head is the exception – will play in a Second XI Trophy match against Warwickshire at New Road on Tuesday in an attempt to find form and confidence..

Brett D’Oliveira and George Rhodes have scraped together just 35 runs in 12 innings between them and Worcestershire’s only half centuries have come from Ben Cox and Ed Barnard at seven and eight in the order.

“It hurts and it’s not nice. Someone asked me the other day if I was enjoying myself. I said sometimes because it’s not easy to enjoy yourself in such circumstances,” Sharp said.

“I have been at this club for four years, I have seen these lads grow up and they are fine players but they have not performed as yet. But I have every confidence and belief they will come through and by September things will have turned round.”

Nottinghamshire have yet to play at Trent Bridge this season because of building work but they will return there to face Hampshire on Friday having won twice on the road.

“We started this little block of five matches thinking of it like a Test series of five. We are 2-1 up at the minute and everyone is excited at going back to Trent Bridge,” Ball said.

Ball already 21 wickets this season and with a new National Selector in Ed Smith, he remains hopeful of reclaiming his England place after he was dropped for the two Tests in New Zealand.

“It’s nice to have had this start having had the winter I had. It’s something I wanted to do. Hopefully I can kick on again and see where we go from there,” he said.

Ball was given the opportunity to pitch the ball up and attack here thanks to the early aggression of Tom Moores and Broad who accelerated Nottinghamshire towards their declaration. They pulled out after the last wicket pair of Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney had scrambled the 12 runs they needed for a third batting point and then set about Worcestershire’s feeble batting.

Daryl Mitchell, who has made only five of his 26 championship centuries in the First Division, was bowled by a full length ball for the second time in the match and only Tom Fell, who batted 28 overs for his 37, threatened to delay Nottinghamshire.

Fell looked distraught when he was bowled shouldering arms to Gurney and Worcestershire’s version of Kwik Cricket meant it was all over long before a party of 150 schoolchildren arrived hoping to see some cricket before a presentation evening.



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