Bob Willis Trophy: Worcestershire pacemen share wickets in win over Northants

Josh Tongue
Worcestershire's four fast bowlers shared the wickets between them
Bob Willis Trophy, County Ground, Northampton (day four):
Worcestershire 219 & 255-6 dec: Fell 110*; Buck 3-42
Northamptonshire 212 & 184: Rossington 44; Pennington 3-30
Worcestershire (20 pts) beat Northants (4 pts) by 78 runs
Scorecard

Tom Fell's first red-ball hundred since having treatment for testicular cancer in 2015 helped guide Worcestershire to a 78-run Bob Willis Trophy victory over Northamptonshire.

Fell's unbeaten 110 allowed the Pears to declare on the final morning and set Northamptonshire 263 in 68 overs and Joe Leach's side easily defended that target as the hosts were bowled out for 184.

There was visible emotion on the visitors' balcony as Fell nudged his 205th delivery down to long leg off Gareth Berg to bring up his sixth first-class century.

After Fell reached his hundred, Worcestershire put their foot on the pedal as he and Ed Barnard smashed 29 in two overs before Leach called an end to proceedings. The target offered hope for Northamptonshire and they began brightly.

Ricardo Vasconcelos cut two boundaries, flicked another and beautifully drove Brett D'Oliveira for another four to give the hosts real hope of victory.

Northamptonshire were well set at 48-0 but the tide turned quickly as they lost three wickets for seven runs in 10 balls.

Both openers fell in identical fashion as they were given out leg before. Ben Curran was the first to go to Leach for 17 and Vasconcelos soon followed to a delivery from Josh Tongue for 31, although there appeared to be some doubt about both decisions.

Alex Wakely then lobbed Tongue to mid-on where Leach took a comfortable catch to leave the hosts on 55-3.

Charlie Thurston then nicked a brisk Barnard away-swinger to Ben Cox behind the stumps soon after and Richard Levi tried to turn Dillon Pennington to leg and got a leading edge to point where Barnard took a good catch diving forward.

Pennington struck again before tea as Saif Zaib wafted outside off-stump and edged behind and Northamptonshire were struggling on 94-6.

With their top order having failed for a sixth consecutive innings, Northamptonshire went down swinging in the final session.

Gareth Berg cut Leach for four but was bowled driving at Tongue, Adam Rossington fluently raced to 44 with seven boundaries before he skied a catch to Cox off Leach.

Nathan Buck struck three sixes and his unbeaten 24 was the innings' third-highest score as Northamptonshire took only four points from the game and have very little to show for their three matches so far.

Blessing Muzarabani edged Pennington to Cox and Barnard took out Jack White's off stump first ball to finish the game.

Northants coach David Ripley told BBC Radio Northampton:

"It's a bit like the Somerset game. We looked good for periods and were punching for a result but, ultimately, at those key moments we lost clusters of wickets and the spell this morning they negated us.

"Tom Fell showed there was another way of scoring runs. We saw aggression was effective when the ball was doing a bit but Fell played an authentic innings. He batted through and faced 200 balls and that was the difference.

"We started really well and the guys went out and defended well and took their opportunities to score. We thought we were well in the game but, at another crossroads, we've lost a bunch of wickets."

Worcestershire first-team coach Alex Gidman told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"Tom Fell's innings was outstanding. He's worked so hard since last November. He's put a massive shift in.

"We always thought it was going to be a tight game and both sides worked hard in testing conditions.

"The difference was always going to be a couple of outstanding performances and thankfully we had those. We had to bat sensibly, then anything over 220 we thought we had a good chance."

Match report supplied by PA Media.

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