County Championship: Worcestershire resist against title-chasing Surrey
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Blackfinch New Road (day one):|
|Worcestershire 288-6: Whiteley 91, Fell 69, Barnard 63*|
|Surrey: Yet to bat|
|Worcestershire (2 pts), Surrey (2 pts)|
Surrey took another step towards the title despite stern resistance from Worcestershire on the opening day of their Championship game at New Road.
Somerset's dismissal by Hampshire for 109 meant Surrey need a maximum of 25 points to become champions.
And they collected two despite good batting by Ross Whiteley (91), Tom Fell (69) and Ed Barnard (63 not out).
Whiteley was caught off Morne Morkel (2-44) with a hundred in sight as Worcestershire reached 288-6 at stumps.
Surrey went into the game targeting a ninth successive victory, while Worcestershire, 16 points adrift at the bottom of the table, needed to somehow upset the form book.
Their situation was not helped by the absence of Brett D'Oliveira because of a back spasm, or the early loss of Daryl Mitchell for 13 in the ninth over.
Debutant Ollie Westbury (22) added 66 with makeshift opener Fell before he and Joe Clarke went in the same Tom Curran over - the latter brilliantly taken one-handed at slip by namesake Rikki Clarke.
Fell steadied the innings before he was lbw to Clarke, then England Lions duo Whiteley and Barnard put on 83 for the sixth wicket.
Whiteley went just nine short of a first century at New Road, but it was still his best score in all formats on his home ground. And Barnard was still going well when bad light ended play 11 balls early.
Pears batsman Ross Whiteley told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"It's been a bit of a grind. Obviously the boys started really well. Tom Fell laid the foundations. He has been looking in really good touch.
"And Ed Barnard has been going from strength to strength. If he is not taking wickets, then he is scoring runs.
"They bowled very well and challenged the bat and missed the edge a lot but we did well to stick at it and keep going.
"Is that a good score? I'm not sure. Ask me when they have batted. But we are pleased with the way we have finished the day."
Surrey bowling consultant Ryan Sidebottom told BBC Radio London:
"This morning we bowled outstandingly. We could have quite easily got three or four wickets.
"The game just drifted away from us a bit after tea I felt. We allowed Ross Whiteley to play a few more shots and didn't bowl as a unit.
"This division is really tough especially now we are in the back of the season. Every team from third place can go down still.
"They are all going to be fighting. They are all going to be up for the challenge. Sometimes when you get in those situations then it is a kick up the backside."