Davies and Mitchell lift Worcestershire
Worcestershire 319 for 5 (Davies 75*, Mitchell 68) v Yorkshire
Worcestershire put their recent woes behind them on the first day of their home match against Yorkshire - a basement battle, in fact, between the two bottom teams in Division One. They applied themselves well against some good bowling, with Steve Davies, whose future at the county is in doubt, making the top score with an unbeaten 75. But they owed much to a resolute opening partnership, while Yorkshire have themselves at least partly to blame for fallible catching in the field.
On a warm sunny morning, in front of a crowd of about 1000, Worcestershire enjoyed considerable advantage when they won the toss and decided to take advantage of ideal batting conditions. After their recent tribulations in Division One, due mainly to the injury problems of their seam battery that earned them promotion last season, Worcestershire began their innings with understandable caution against Yorkshire's more-than-competent attack, led by Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan. Bresnan produced some particularly fine deliveries, beating the bat on several occasions, but it was not his lucky day; Ajmal Shahzad, first change, was rather erratic.
The Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and Stephen Moore did a sound job of occupying the crease, with Moore the more fluent of the two. He reached his 50 off 73 balls and celebrated with a straight six off the spinner Azeem Rafiq. But then, just before lunch, he walked into a straight delivery from Hoggard and departed lbw for 68. The opening stand was worth 104, the first time this season it has realised a century. In the first over after the break, Vikram Solanki was caught at the wicket, causing the pessimistic locals to prophesise imminent collapse.
But it didn't come, as Mitchell's innings was the glue that held the team together. It was slow but valuable, as he ground his way to 50 off 131 balls. He did speed up a little after that, and was eventually dismissed for 68 off 164 balls, yorked by Rafiq as he looked for the drive. He was predeceased by Ben Smith, who made 15 by mishitting a short ball from Dion Kruis straight to gully. At 173 for 4 the innings was again in the balance, but Moeen Ali and Davies then shared a useful partnership of 92 by steady, responsible batting on either side of tea.
Moeen, whose 50 took 113 balls, continued the trend of dismissal soon after reaching the landmark, bowled middle stump by Kruis for 55. Soon afterwards Davies recorded the fastest fifty so far, off 70 balls, an enterprising innings. He too nearly perished soon afterwards, on 62, but had to thank Andrew Gale, who appeared to have picked up a fine one-handed overhead catch at extra cover, only to let it slip from his fingers.
Yorkshire did not get another chance, and Worcestershire will be well pleased with their day's work, as Ashley Noffke helped the wicketkeeper to see the day through. Recent experiences will leave them under no illusions about the hard work that remains to be done to win the match, but they could scarcely have wished for a better start.