April 30, 2001

Bichel shines as Worcestershire outgun Northants

Andy Bichel made a big impact on his debut in the Benson & Hedges Cup as Worcestershire cruised to a 96-run win against Northamptonshire in their opening group fixture at Kidderminster.

The 30-year-old Australian made 29 from 23 balls as the hosts reached 227 for 7 and then took 3 for 38 and safely held three catches in Northants' dismissal for 131 with 12.4 overs to spare.

So Worcestershire left their temporary home at Chester Road with two wins in two days and went a long way towards restoring their one-day reputation after last season's relegation in the Norwich Union League.

Despite the early loss of Graeme Hick, their batting had sufficient depth to exploit the vulnerable areas in Northants' attack - and notably John Blain's eight overs for 69 runs.

Paul Pollard, a gold award winner for the first time in the 15th season of his career, laid the base with a solid 69 and David Leatherdale provided the middle-order impetus with 58 from 68 balls.

The all-rounder's quickfire partnership of 60 with Bichel enabled Worcestershire to take 83 runs from the last ten overs and set a target which proved to be well beyond the visitors' range. Alamgir Sheriyar applied an early stranglehold with 2 for 14 and the result was signposted with half the side gone for 64.

Of the few plus points for Northants, Darren Cousins set a new one-day best with 4 for 23, and in the batting, Jeff Cook top scored with 38 and Graeme Swann hit four fours and two sixes in his 37 from 28 balls.