County Championship: Northamptonshire thrash Worcestershire by 10 wickets
|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, County Ground, Northampton (day three):|
|Worcestershire 186: Leach 53*, Moeen 42; Hutton 6-57 & 223: Wessels Moeen 40; Sanderson 4-13|
|Northamptonshire 376: Pretorius 111, Wakely 102 & 36-0: Curran 17*, Newton 17*|
|Northants (22 pts) beat Worcestershire (2 pts) by 10 wickets|
Northamptonshire boosted their Division Two promotion hopes as they finished off Worcestershire just after lunch.
Resuming on 42-4, Moeen Ali and Joe Leach initially looked untroubled in the first 45 minutes of the day.
But Leach was then out LBW sweeping and, off the very next ball, Moeen ran himself out for 40, going for a third.
Northants old boy Riki Wessels held up things with some late hitting but the Pears could make only 223 to leave the hosts making 36-0 to win by 10 wickets.
Rob Newton and Ben Curran took just 27 balls to knock off the runs, each making 17, to follow the explosive efforts of Wessels, who was unbeaten on 84.
He reached his half century for only the third time this season, hitting 11 fours and a six as he reverted to more like his best T20 form to help the Pears at least make Northants bat again.
But any serious hopes Worcestershire had of saving the game were wrecked when, from his first ball facing Rob Keogh following Leach's dismissal, Ben Cox flicked the off spinner to fine leg and non-striker Moeen thought they might run three, rather than two, as Brett Hutton gave chase to the boundary.
But Hutton's throw was low, flat and right over the bails and Moeen was run out, comfortably short of his ground.
Having looked horribly out of touch in the first innings, when he made a very scratchy 42, the England all-rounder did at least look far more like his old self, driving six-wicket first-innings home hero Hutton through the covers and lifting South Africa all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius over mid-off for six.
In the tightly congested Division Two table, defeat does not totally end ninth-placed Worcestershire's hopes of prising one of the three promotion places.
But it does not do them much good, while Northants' third win of the season, all in the last four games, leaves them right in the thick of it, having now gone above third-placed Glamorgan.
They are now unbeaten in six games since their crushing defeat by an innings and 143 runs against Glamorgan in early June and have have flourished under Adam Rossington since their mid-season captaincy change.
There is now another three-week break from Championship cricket before Worcestershire host Glamorgan at New Road on 10 September, when Northants visit Grace Road to play bottom club Leicestershire.
Northants head coach David Ripley:
"There was a very important partnership between Alex Wakely and Dwaine Pretorius that set us up.
"Historically we've found it difficult to get in when batting has been at its easiest but those two played exceptionally well.
"Then Ben Sanderson's highly skilled new ball spell set us on the way and on the final morning the over with two wickets changed the belief of both sides.
"I always thought we'd win from there. We've got a good haul of points and are wedged in up at the top of the league."
Pears bowling coach Alan Richardson told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"We've been outplayed. We had glimpses of good performances from individuals but collectively nowhere near sustainable enough to compete.
"We haven't produced at the top of the order this season. We backed ourselves to get through the first session of the game but couldn't do that.
"Brett Hutton bowled really well but you have to battle it out and build because from there, the wicket was good for a day and a half.
"They did the basic things for longer than we did and, when that happens, it makes it very difficult."