Jack Shantry claimed four second-innings victims as Worcestershire took another step towards the LV= County Championship Division Two title, beating Gloucestershire by eight wickets inside three days at Cheltenham.
But the victory celebrations were delayed by a Gloucestershire record last-wicket stand of 137 between Liam Norwell, who hit 78, and Craig Miles. Norwell’s score was the highest ever in first-class cricket by a Gloucestershire number 11.
Both tailenders put the earlier batsmen to shame with career-best scores, Norwell facing 102 balls and hitting 12 fours and a six, while Miles hit 10 fours in his unbeaten 62.
Their stand occupied 33.1 overs and left Worcestershire needing 51 to win, which they knocked off in less than eight overs for the loss of openers Daryl Mitchell and Richard Oliver.
Earlier, left-arm seamer Shantry had taken his championship wicket tally for the season to an impressive 40, returning 4-52 from 21 overs as the hosts were reduced to 152 for nine before the last pair’s heroics.
There were two wickets for Mitchell McClenaghan, whose pace was a feature of the match, and three for Charlie Morris before Worcestershire wrapped up a win that strengthened their already firm grip on top spot in Division Two by moving 43 points clear.
They took 23 points from a largely one-sided game, while Gloucestershire settled for three, having been comprehensively outplayed.
— Worcestershire CCC (@WorcsCCC) July 23, 2014
The hosts began day three on 10 for one, needing a further 229 runs to make their opponents bat again. For the second time in the match McClenaghan’s opening spell proved key as he quickly removed nightwatchman Tom Smith and Will Tavare to make it 30 for three.
The New Zealand left-arm seamer extracted life and bounce from the wicket, but was used in short spells, later striking Ian Cockbain two blows on the helmet.
At one point McClenaghan bowled to Alex Gidman with five slips, and two other close catchers on the off-side in a backward point and short third-man.
Shantry got in on the act, bowling Alex Gidman for 37 with the total on 79 and having Hamish Marshall caught behind off a thin edge for 15. It was 103 for five at lunch and Worcestershire moved in for the kill.
Second ball after the interval Will Gidman tamely lifted a catch to square-leg off Morris and it was 133 for seven when Shantry trapped Cockbain lbw for 15.
Three runs later Benny Howell was bowled by Shantry shouldering arms, having made 24. Adam Rouse became the third batsman to depart for 15 when caught at second slip by Mitchell off Joe Leach with the total on 152.
McClenaghan bombarded Norwell with a succession of short balls, but the Gloucestershire man emerged unscathed to triple his previous best first-class score of 26. His half-century came off 67 balls, with eight fours and a six.
Thank you for the messages-hugely appreciated-great innings by @CMiles34 But a hugely disappointing result-we'll bounce back well on Friday
— Liam Norwell (@LCNorwell24) July 23, 2014
Miles was equally untroubled in following his partner to 50 off 86 deliveries, with eight fours and, although tea was delayed, the pair made it through to the interval, leaving the field to a standing ovation with their side 22 runs ahead at 261 for nine.
Norwell was finally bowled by Morris, much to Worcestershire’s relief. After a couple of reverses, they clinched victory at shortly before 6pm.
Norwell said: “I can’t quite believe what I’ve done. Craig kept me going and we took it a step at a time, first trying to stop Worcestershire winning too easily and then looking to make them bat again.
“It means a lot to make Gloucestershire history. McClennaghan didn’t seem to like me much, but it was good banter and he got me up for a battle.”
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes was refusing to get carried away despite his side inching closer to the Division Two crown.
"We are still not taking anything for granted and need to take our remaining games one at a time, focusing fully one each," he said.
"Our seamers take a lot of credit for this win. Saeed Ajmal was great for us, but they set up a lot of opportunities for him and have come to the fore now he has gone."