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Tim Wigmore at Old Trafford
April 10, 2013
Worcestershire 227 for 6 (Moeen 78) v Lancashire
Any illusions that Lancashire would find Championship promotion easy were dispelled on an attritional opening day at Old Trafford. Lancashire puffed without ever threatening to blow the house down; Worcestershire seemed more concerned with self-preservation than domination on their own return to Division Two.
When these sides met at Old Trafford in Division One last season, Moeen Ali claimed 12 for 96 in the match with his offbreaks. He continued his fine record at the ground, albeit in a different discipline, with a mature 78 as Worcestershire held their own.
Despite his considerable talent, Moeen's batting average was only 25 last year: an important reason why Worcestershire only won one Championship game. Light on his feet and a crisp timer, Moeen's cutting, and a straight six off Simon Kerrigan, showed why he has a reputation as a stylist. Yet it was his discipline - he lasted 188 balls - that was even more impressive, although he was dropped in the gully after a loose cut on 41. It was a shame when, attempting to replicate his earlier six against Kerrigan, Moeen was caught at long-on. Still, his cousin Kabir Ali would have looked on enviously: a new signing for Lancashire but not playing here, he has a problem with his knee that the county will monitor over the next month, though he looked sprightly warming up.
Without Kabir, Lancashire's attack was unable to rise above the workmanlike. Both Glen Chapple, into his 40th year, and Kyle Hogg (with an opening spell of 8-3-11-0) were typically parsimonious but Lancashire would have hoped for more when they inserted Worcestershire. The suspicion remains that an injury to Chapple could make regularly taking 20 wickets, even in Division Two, a struggle.
So Wayne White's Lancashire Championship debut was encouraging. His first ball could scarcely have been worse - the longest of long hops - but at the end of his over he claimed the opening wicket, a leading edge from Matthew Pardoe that was athletically taken by Chapple at mid-on. Although he bowled too wide for periods, White consistently looked the most likely wicket-taker, generating more pace and bounce than the other seamers, and later had Alexei Kervezee sharply taken by Steven Croft at second slip. Having averaged 30 with bat and ball in his last two seasons at Leicestershire, White may prove one of 2013's most prudent signings.
In a largely turgid day, the highlight was a duel between Kerrigan and Thilan Samaweerawa, making his county debut aged 36. The Sri Lankan is an excellent player of spin, able to hit the ball powerfully in front of the wicket or with finesse behind it. So it was to Kerrigan's huge credit that, the ball after Samaraweera had glided a delivery for four to third man, he claimed him caught behind with a slightly quicker delivery.
Despite Samaraweera's anger at his dismissal, Worcestershire could be very satisfied with their day. It did not start well. Richard Jones was injured in the warm-up and was replaced by David Lucas before Daryl Mitchell lost the toss. Mitchell himself then suffered what Worcestershire described as a "24-hour bug", and didn't bat until No. 7. He didn't look like a man who needed the exercise of running quick singles, but, along with the almost strokeless Neil Pinner, withstood Chapple's probing second new ball spell. Luke Procter's nagging seam claimed Pinner lbw for 29 as Worcestershire closed on 227 for 6.
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