Smith sends Lancashire top
Tom Smith took four wickets for just seven runs as Lancashire's bowlers took just 55 minutes to wrap up a vital 98-run victory over Worcestershire in the LV= County Championship match at Blackpool.
Smith’s devastating spell in 7.2 overs ensured Daryl Mitchell's side were bowled out for 230 as they lost their last five wickets for 27 runs this morning in the process.
The win means Lancashire open up a 13-point lead over Durham at the top of Division One and the result will inevitably raise supporters' hopes that they are about to end their 77-year wait for an outright title win.
The first Worcestershire batsman to be dismissed on the fourth morning at Blackpool was Aneesh Kapil, who was dragged forward by Gary Keedy and smartly stumped by Gareth Cross for seven to give the slow left-armer his 50th championship wicket of a season in which he has recently been linked with a move to Warwickshire.
The rest of the morning belonged to Smith, who began his best spell of the season when he had nightwatchman Shaaiq Choudhry caught low down at backward point by Stephen Moore for four.
Less than four overs later the 25-year-old seamer struck again when he claimed the key wicket of wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Scott, who was lbw playing across the line for two.
The departure of Worcestershire's top scorer in their first innings only served to further energise the Lancashire attack and it was Smith who struck the final blows, bowling Richard Jones off an inside edge for three and having Alan Richardson caught at second slip by Blackpool-born Steven Croft for one.
That left Smith with season-best figures of 4-32, while Gareth Andrew was left on 14 not out to complete a match in which he had taken eight wickets and scored 75 runs.
Despite their determined resistance for much of this game, defeat deepened Worcestershire's relegation worries and the two sides will resume hostilities when they meet at New Road in 11 days' time.