Declaration and Ali burst bring game to life
Yorkshire 319 (Rashid 108, McGrath 55, Bollinger 4-82) and 32 for 4 (Ali 4-14) lead Worcestershire 172 for 5 dec (Hick 69*) by 179 runs
Two batsmen and a bowler dominated the day as Worcestershire and Yorkshire tried to manufacture a result out of their rain-damaged match at Kidderminster. The batsmen were at opposite ends of the age scale: for Yorkshire, Adil Rashid, aged 19, scored his maiden first-class century, while for the home team Graeme Hick, who became the last batsman to score 1000 runs by the end of May while Rashid was three months old, played a vintage innings at the age of 41. The bowler was Kabir Ali, who put the skids under Yorkshire as they batted again.
The first day had belonged to the Worcestershire bowlers, but the overnight batting pair of Rashid and Gerard Brophy restored the balance with a responsible partnership. They added 111 invaluable runs before Brophy (41) pulled Roger Sillence to midwicket, where Ben Smith to seized a superb low catch.
Immediately afterwards Rashid, particularly strong on the pull, reached his 50 off 84 balls, and then raced through the 60s and 70s before a sudden downpour drove the players from the field for an early lunch. Afterwards he played one or two uncertain strokes before settling in again, all the while losing partners until last man Matthew Hoggard was required to see him through to three figures. His previous best was 91 not out.
He kept his head, lashing Ali over backward point to the boundary to reach the landmark off 146 balls. He was last out for 108, caught at the wicket trying to flick a ball from Doug Bollinger over the slips. Yorkshire totalled 319, thanks to his efforts, after being 125 for 5. Bollinger took four wickets, while Ali did not add to his three overnight. His hour was still to come. Erratic bowling allowed extras to contribute 48, the 10 byes and 17 leg-byes coming mainly from wild deliveries down the leg side.
Hoggard, returning after injury, began well and handed Worcestershire a setback by taking two wickets in three balls, including that of the captain Vikram Solanki, who is in a run of poor form, without scoring. Hick held the innings together, batting with caution until reaching the twenties and then beginning to open up. His most productive strokes were the drive, especially past or over mid-off, and he was quite severe on Hoggard. His 50 came off 52 balls and looked capable of adding to his monumental tally of centuries, only for Solanki to declare at 172 for 5, as soon as the follow-on was avoided; Hick was unbeaten on 69.
Ali then found his spot with a vengeance as soon as Yorkshire batted again, having both Craig White and Anthony McGrath caught by the wicketkeeper Steven Davies without a run on the board. The total plunged to 5 for 3 as he removed Joe Sayers with the help of an lbw decision, then 10 for 4 as he shattered Younis Khan's stumps. Yorkshire's top order these days is about as solid as the Zimbabwe dollar. They were grateful to their South Africans, Brophy and Jacques Rudolph for seeing out the day without further disaster.
It was an eventful day for the local crowd of more than 1000, and an exciting finish is quite possible. Again, the one complaint was the pathetic over rate by both teams, the day ending about 50 minutes late. Kidderminster is a good venue, and it is to be hoped that the county will reward the town with at least one regular annual fixture again.