August 9, 2003

Hall keeps his cool to edge Worcestershire into C&G final

Wisden CricInfo staff

Worcestershire 254 for 5 (Hick 97, Singh 63) beat Lancashire 248 for 9 (Loye 116*) by six runs

Man of the Match Andrew Hall appeals successfully against Lancashire's Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Hall held his nerve to bowl Worcestershire through to the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy final in a nail-biting and topsy-turvey semi-final against Lancashire at New Road. Mal Loye ended unbeaten on 116, but his brave effort was not enough as the Lancashire tail-enders lost their way.

After being up against it for the majority if the match, Lancashire had the game in the bag needing only seven runs from the last over. But Hall (4 for 36) stayed calm and fired in the yorkers to great effect. He picked up two wickets and gave away only one run to take Worcestershire through to the final against Gloucestershire.

Lancashire made a slow start to their chase of 255 and Nantie Hayward soon trapped Mark Chilton lbw with an inswinging yorker (15 for 1). Matthew Mayson then kept the pressure on with a superb spell of seam bowling (1 for 23 from 10 overs) and got his reward with the big wicket of Stuart Law, caught by Hall at second slip (70 for 2). Hall then got in the act with the two wickets of Carl Hooper and Andrew Flintoff, both lbw, and Lancashire had spluttered to 108 for 4.

Meanwhile, Mal Loye stayed firm and gave Lancashire hope with his mixture of aggressive leg-side thwacks and sensible accumulation. He and Chris Schofield hauled Lancashire back in the game with a rollicking 63 stand in which Schofield savaged all before him in a cameo 32 from 31 balls. Gareth Batty may soon be an international, but Schofield - who is an international, in case you've forgotten - showed him no respect and crashed him for four boundaries in the 37th over to tilt the game in the balance.

But Schofield soon found out that all good things come to an end when he slapped David Leatherdale to Hayward at mid-on (171 for 5). Glen Chapple, another new England call-up, kept Loye support and his enterprising 44 from 43 balls all but secured the tie for Lancashire. But when he was bowled by Kabir Ali going for another big hit, the game was thrown wide open. Warren Hegg and Peter Martin were bowled in the final over and John Wood run out as Lancashire self-destructed to a six-run loss.

Hegg, the Lancashire captain, said before the game that Graeme Hick was Worcestershire's dangerman, and his prediction was spot on, unlike his decision to bowl first. Hick belted 97 from 112 balls in a rollicking start. He got in to the groove straight away and he and the impressive Anurag Singh added 155 for the second wicket. The pair made the most of the good batting track and baking hot conditions as they cashed in on anything wide and short.

Singh hit 63 from 104 when Lancashire made a much-needed breakthrough as Singh was caught by Schofield at point off Flintoff (159 for 2). Hick, who was dropped by Hegg in the thirties, continued to give it some humpty and clobbered 16 fours and was on course for another limited-overs century when Chapple struck to dislodge Hick when a leading edge flew to Carl Hooper at cover (191 for 3).

Ben Smith (36) and Hall (26) kept up the momentum, and even though Hick's wicket slightly took the wind out of their sails, their 254 for 5 was enough - just.