Worcestershire v Durham, NatWest T20, New Road

Whiteley strikes to send Worcs top

Ryan Bailey

June 7, 2014

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Worcestershire 107 for 5 (Kohler-Cadmore 32, Whiteley 25) beat Durham 105 for 3 (McLeod 43) by five wickets
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Ross Whiteley made 38 but it proved futile, Essex v Worcestershire, County Championship, Division Two, Chelmsford, 3rd day, September, 5, 2013
Ross Whitely struck three sixes as Worcestershire got up with two balls to spare © Getty Images
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It's often a strategy, in rain-truncated games, to evaluate the conditions by bowling first. Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell had no hesitation in doing just that, following a two-hour delay, and his methods paid dividends as his side timed their tricky chase to perfection to move top of the North Group.

It's hardly surprising, on the back of another winter of submersion, that New Road's pitches aren't conducive to deliveries whistling past the batsman's helmet or bowlers thrusting it down with great speed but it makes for compelling viewing nonetheless.

With sixteen required to win off the final over, in a game reduced to 13 overs per side, Worcestershire were indebted to some clean striking - something that was rare hitherto - from Gareth Andrew and Ross Whiteley to ensure they made it four consecutive wins in the shortest format.

While Worcestershire exhibited all their pluckiness to get across the line from an unlikely position, Durham had only themselves to blame. Having batted first on a stodgy surface that was under the covers for much of the day, Durham learnt what methods were efficacious. They duly took note, reducing the hosts to 58 for 4 in the ninth over but let it slip when victory was within their grasp.

At the interval, Jack Shantry described Durham's total of 105 for 3 as par. The visitors, however, went about proving it was above that on a wet outfield and two-paced track. Usman Arshad bowled with great variation, taking all the pace off, and along with John Hastings proceeded to strangle the Worcestershire chase. That was until Andrew, only playing because of the shortened game, armed with his long-levered bat demonstrated that batting wasn't as arduous as others had may it out to be. Only Calum MacLeod played with any sort of fluency for Durham as their innings struggled to gain the momentum and impetus expected in such a short game.

Chris Russell took two wickets in as many balls to highlight the deviant nature of conditions. Mark Stoneman could only pull straight to deep square leg before, next delivery, Phil Mustard could only glove one that unexpectedly lifted through to Ben Cox.

If the shortest format requires thinking outside of the box, Worcestershire certainly meet that criteria. Their bowling attack is as unorthodox as it comes. Mitchell took all the pace off the ball - regularly clocking just 48mph - and although he went wicketless, Saeed Ajmal ensured there would be no Durham acceleration.

MacLeod, who scored an unbeaten 43 which included three sixes, was the standout performer as he propelled his side, alongside Gordon Muchall, past the 100 mark with an unbeaten stand of 72 off just 42 balls. But it should have been a partnership of 74. Richard Oliver, patrolling the leg side boundary, managed to cling onto a towering MacLeod swat but landed on the boundary cushion before releasing the ball. A four was given and despite video evidence clearly showing it should have been a six, the decision couldn't be changed.

In truth, it didn't matter. For much of their innings, Worcestershire plodded along, losing wickets at regular intervals as Durham's bowlers utilised conditions brilliantly. When New Zealander Colin Munro fell lbw to Hastings, giving the bowler his third wicket, the contest seemed all but over. Andrew, though, had something of a point to prove after being left in the shadows in recent weeks. He lofted a full toss from Chris Rushworth down the ground, then swatted a boundary to the leg-side before falling trying to repeat the trick next ball. Whiteley proceeded to finish off the job.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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