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Somerset Produce Magic Afternoon At New Road

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Leaders Somerset fought back strongly with the ball and took a major step towards sealing a Lord’s final spot after a dramatic Worcestershire collapse on the second day of the Bob Willis Trophy Central Group encounter at Blackfinch New Road.

The home side were threatening to post a formidable total after reaching 123-1 shortly after the lunch interval in reply to Somerset’s 251 all out.

Worcestershire appeared to have seized the momentum thanks to another impressive performance from Jake Libby who scored his fourth fifty plus score in eight innings in the competition.

The former Nottinghamshire player is currently the leading scorer in the Trophy with 475 runs at an average of 59.37.

But then the tables were turned spectacularly after an afternoon break for rain as nine wickets tumbled for 77 runs in 20 runs post tea.

It was result of a mixture of fine bowling by the pace trio of Craig Overton, Josh Davey and Jack Brooks but also some distinctly average shot selection.

Somerset lost Ben Green – bowled by Worcestershire Club Captain Joe Leach for a duck – in reaching 16-1 before bad light ended play early.

They went into the game needing a maximum of 19 points to ensure their place in the final and the five bonus points already claimed means outright victory will seal a September 23 date.

Overton and Davey have a combined total of 47 wickets and an indication of the potency of Somerset’s attack is that Worcestershire’s total of 200 all out represents the highest conceded by them in four-day cricket this summer.

Worcestershire had scored 400 plus in three of their previous four matches but the clatter of wickets after again establishing a strong platform leaves them facing an uphill task particularly as Josh Tongue is unlikely to bowl after suffering a back spasm on the opening day.

Worcestershire resumed on 14-0 and there was still enough encouragement in the pitch for the seamers.

Daryl Mitchell and Libby played positively before the former on 31 was lbw to a Lewis Gregory delivery angled towards leg stump.

Spinner Jack Leach bowled tidily in his first competitive match for 10 months since being diagnosed with sepsis during England’s tour of New Zealand.

He was then was laid low with a calf tear before recovering sufficiently to be part of the Test squad for this summer’s series with the West Indies and Pakistan but without being selected.

Libby released his control by straight driving a six and four in the same over but was fortunate when edging a Brookes delivery right through the hands of Leach at first slip.

The 27-year-old reached his fourth fifty plus score in eight Trophy innings off 114 balls with one six and seven fours before the players left the field at 121-1 half an hour into the afternoon session.

It was on the resumption that the pendulum swung decisively in Somerset’s favour.

Tom Fell (26) was confronted by a Brookes delivery which shaped as if it was going to move away but went straight on and dislodged a bail as he shouldered arms.

Jack Haynes (4) lost his off stump to Gregory and Libby’s fine knock ended on 58 when he drove at Brookes and fell to a fine low catch by ex Worcestershire keeper Steve Davies.

Riki Wessels opted for an aggressive approach which paid handsome dividends as he struck Brookes for five authentic boundaries in the space of 15 deliveries

Brett D’Oliveira (8) was lbw to a ball angled into him from Overton and Wessels, having made 32 off 36 balls, went for a pull against the same bowler and fell to a fine catch at square leg by Ed Byrom.

Ed Barnard (0) was bowled aiming a blow on the leg side off Davey and Ben Cox (8) perished at third slip off Overton. Joe Leach (6) nicked Davey to first slip and he claimed his third wicket by bowling Tongue (0).

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground