Clarke ton keeps Derbyshire at arm's length

Worcestershire 255 for 6 (Clarke 117*, Mitchell 67) v Derbyshire

Joe Clarke gave another example of his blossoming potential with a sixth first-class hundred of the season for Worcestershire on day one of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Derbyshire at New Road. Clarke celebrated his inclusion in the England Lions squad for their winter programme by moving to three figures off 200 balls with 13 fours and one six as the home side closed on 255 for 6.

The 20-year-old has maintained a level of consistency throughout his first full season of senior cricket and had already passed 1000 Championship runs for the campaign in the previous match against Sussex and Hove. He helped Worcestershire to recover from a testing start to the day against their bottom-placed opponents in which Brett D'Oliveira and Tom Fell were dismissed by Tom Milnes in the opening 12 overs after an uncontested toss.

A quickly taken single off Alex Hughes took Clarke to a chanceless century. He was well supported by skipper Daryl Mitchell who reached 1000 first class runs for 2016 in his benefit year and continued the upturn in fortunes he has enjoyed in recent weeks.

Worcestershire went into the game still harbouring outside hopes of overhauling Kent for second spot and £43,000 of prize money. But Milnes gave them a searching examination early on and D'Oliveira's poor run of scores continued when he was bowled for a duck in the second over of the day.

Fell looked in prime form and reeled off a succession of impressive boundaries in making 24 but then succumbed to a fine catch by Alex Hughes.

Mitchell and Clarke were initially watchful with Worcestershire mindful of avoiding the first-innings collapses that have been an unwanted feature during the second half of the summer. But the third wicket-pair gradually blossomed and Mitchell square cut Milnes for four to bring up his half-century off 109 balls with eight boundaries. Mitchell looked on course for a third successive hundred at New Road until he was trapped lbw by Ben Cotton via a delivery which jagged back.

Clarke profited from a series of pull shots and straight drives and was seldom troubled by the Derbyshire attack. George Rhodes was caught behind off Cotton after adding 59 in 23 overs with Clarke who lofted Wayne Madsen for a straight six before a quickly taken single off Hughes took him to his hundred out of 221 for 4.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who came into the game on the back of successive pairs against Glamorgan and Sussex, was bowled by Tony Palladino after shouldering arms and Ben Cox then provided a third success for Cotton when Tom Wood held onto a low juggling catch at second slip.