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Cox finds form on drab day

Highlights from New Road, where Ben Cox celebrated his new contract in good style

Ben Cox responded to a vote of confidence with a career-best performance for Worcestershire as the LV= County Championship Division Two fixture with Hampshire drifted to draw at New Road.

The rain-wrecked game was effectively dead as soon as Worcestershire avoided the follow-on but it was a big day for Cox.

After the 21-year-old wicketkeeper's impressive innings of 65 from 113 balls, chief executive David Leatherdale confirmed he has been offered a new contract.

Cox's third half-century in championship cricket - coupled with an unbeaten 61 by Shaaiq Choudhry - helped Worcestershire to 351 for eight, still 77 behind.

A declaration then left Hampshire to make 69 for two before the teams agreed on the earliest possible finish at 4:20pm.

Cox has had numerous ups and downs since 2009, when he was taken out of his studies at Bromsgrove School to score 61 against Somerset at Taunton in his first championship appearance.

He has since had to compete for the wicketkeeping berth with Ben Scott and then the Australian Michael Johnson, but he is now the only senior gloveman in the squad following Johnson's release last Tuesday.

There were two ways the match could have gone on the final day. Worcestershire wanted to set up a run chase but Hampshire took the more difficult option in trying to enforce the follow-on.

When Cox and Ross Whiteley resumed at 189 for five, the home side still needed 90 to avoid batting again and made it for the loss of only one wicket.

Matt Coles often strayed down the leg side but James Tomlinson, with 4-85, did make a breakthrough when bowling Whiteley for 38.

From that point, Cox and Choudhry were in control. When the second new ball was taken, Cox confidently pulled Tomlinson for six and in the seamer's next over he dismissed the follow-on threat with a well-timed cover drive.

The last opportunity to open the game up passed by when Worcestershire batted on for bonus points after lunch.

They added only four runs in 20 minutes before Cox edged to gully, giving Hampshire's loan signing Coles his third wicket of the innings, but by then the match had lost its competitive edge.

Hitting 10 fours in nearly three hours, Choudhry put on 78 with Cox and then 58 alongside Jack Shantry, who was bowled by Chris Wood for 27.

Worcestershire called a halt after finding a bizarre way of collecting a fourth batting point. Wood flattened Choudhry's leg stump but was called for a no-ball which nudged the total past 350.

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