Lancashire 86 for 5 (Barnard 4-20) trail Worcestershire 247 (Mitchell 118, Mennie 4-43, Clark 4-56) by 161 runs
Daryl Mitchell is a man with a lot on his mind. As chairman of the Professional Cricketers' Association, he may conceivably have to lead his members in some sort of industrial action if the potential pay dispute with the ECB looming over the new broadcasting deal is not settled amicably. If he were to appear a little distracted it might be understandable.
Happily for Worcestershire, there is little sign of anything but a single-minded focus on his day job, which is just as well. Without a superb century from their former captain they might have been in a fair old mess already in this match.
As it was, a remarkable burst of wickets by Ed Barnard at the close swung the advantage back to Worcestershire, which only enhanced the value of Mitchell's hundred in what were clearly testing conditions.
Worcestershire are the yo-yo team of the County Championship, relegated five times and promoted six times in the two-division era. Again they are finding the higher division difficult. Lancashire themselves are not exactly looking like title contenders yet on a warm and windy morning they were able to have their opponents in trouble quickly.
Martin Guptill fell to Graham Onions after only eight balls of his Worcestershire debut, the ball obligingly following the bat as the New Zealander tried to withdraw from his shot, and thereafter the Lancashire seamers were in the ascendency. Tom Bailey nipped one back to bowl Tim Fell and when Joe Mennie struck three times in his opening spell, the home county were 81 for 5.
It was a particularly good spell from Mennie, who found a textbook inswinger to clip the off bail to remove the dangerous Joe Clarke, who had picked up his fifth boundary the ball before, and sent back Brett D'Oliveira, the stand-in captain, and Ben Cox with consecutive deliveries.
Mitchell, though, was giving nothing away and finally found some prolonged support from Barnard, who batted steadily for an hour and 20 minutes, allowing the former captain to develop some momentum. Mennie returned to dismiss Barnard with the fourth ball of his new spell but Mitchell had gone past fifty by then, the partnership adding 66.
Mitchell has been a Worcestershire player for the whole of his career and it was a hurtful blow to him to lose the captaincy at the end of the 2016 season. Not that his form suffered for it. Last year yielded seven centuries as the county ran down Nottinghamshire to win the Second Division title.
This one, his first this year, takes his total hundreds for the county to 31, putting him level with Basil D'Oliveira and Alan Ormrod, which is pretty good company to be keeping. He hit 19 fours. The only chance he gave, edging Bailey on 67, ended second slip Haseeb Hameed's participation until the last throes of the day with a damaged finger.
Whiteley's lusty hitting, cheering up the locals with a couple of hefty sixes over the leg side boundary off Mennie and Jordan Clark, took the Worcestershire total beyond 200 and though the tail fell away rapidly, Clark cleaning up with four wickets in five overs, the score when Mitchell finally miscued to cover was at least respectable.
Lancashire, against whom Mitchell made a hundred here last month, helping the county earn a home semi-final in the Royal London Cup, looked set to end the day in a strong position but after an opening partnership of 77 between Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies was ended by Guptill taking a brilliant diving catch at midwicket, they were dramatically derailed by Barnard, the seam-bowling all-rounder dismissing nightwatchman Stephen Parry, Hameed, Shiv Chanderpaul and Rob Jones in the space of 16 deliveries.