Joe Leach takes hat-trick in Worcestershire defeat
|Royal London One-Day Cup, New Road|
|Worcestershire: 105 (31 overs): Cox 36; Azharullah 4-22|
|Northants: 126 (35.1 overs): Kleinveldt 33; Shantry 4-29, Leach 4-30|
|Northants (2pts) won by 21 runs|
Worcestershire's Joe Leach took a hat-trick with the first three balls of the One-Day Cup match against Northants - but still ended up on the losing side.
Leach accounted for Richard Levi and Rob Keogh, both caught behind, before removing Ben Duckett, caught at gully.
The 24-year-old's hat-trick came in figures of 4-30 before 33 from Rory Kleinveldt and Josh Cobb's 32 helped the Steelbacks stutter to 126 all out.
But the winless Rapids also struggled with the bat, losing by 21 runs.
"I can't quite believe I'm stood here after we've lost that game," Leach said. "Obviously the first three balls were an unbelievable feeling. I never thought something like that would happen, but I'm a bit gutted at the moment at the way the rest of the game has gone.
"Cricket's a funny old game, isn't it? On some days you bowl six perfect balls and get taken for eight off an over. Other days you don't get it quite right and get a hat-trick. That's the way cricket works."
Leach is not the first player to achieve the remarkable feat.
At the 2003 World Cup, Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas became the first player in Tests or one-day internationals to take such a hat-trick, in a win against Bangladesh. He went on to claim a fourth victim in his opening over.
Leach claimed his fourth wicket with the departure of Josh Cobb in the 27th over.
His early flurry was gleefully recorded by Worcestershire's Twitter account:
An intrepid swan briefly delayed proceedings, adding to a highly entertaining opening, before Worcestershire set about pressing home their advantage.
Jack Shantry, who had earlier taken the catch off Duckett, took three wickets of his own - removing Alex Wakely, David Willey and Steven Crook as Northants were reduced to 19-6 before eight overs had been played.
The 27-year-old left-armer went on to finish with figures on 4-29.
Worcestershire's response was largely timid, with Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Tom Fell, Joe Clarke, Brett D'Oliveira and Ross Whiteley departing inside the first 20 overs.
Azharullah took three of those wickets, with Olly Stone and Kleinveldt also adding one to the tally.
Daryl Mitchell's resistance ended on 18 as the bowlers continued to dominate and only Leach's 21 managed to give the valiant Ben Cox (36) any support as Ed Barnard and Shantry also went cheaply.
Northants' second win of the competition leaves Worcestershire on one point from four games in Group A.
Northants bowler Azharullah said: "I can't really believe what happened. When we batted first we thought it would be quite a good wicket, maybe 260 or 270, but then three wickets go in three balls - so well done to them.
"It's been an amazing day, an amazing game of cricket, that's what it's all about, our team - the entertainers. We entertained today!
"I don't remember a game like that in my career. It was just one of those games, a once-in-lifetime experience."