Worcestershire go down
Worcestershire’s relegation from Division One of the LV= County Championship was confirmed after they failed to take a single batting point against Hampshire at New Road.
Dismissed for 159 after losing seven wickets for 81 between lunch and tea, they followed on 224 behind and now face a 10th defeat in 14 games after closing on 102 for four.
For Hampshire, a much-needed victory would considerably ease their own relegation worries by turning up the pressure on Sussex and Yorkshire in the battle to avoid second division cricket next summer.
Taking control on the first day after a stand of 161 by Jimmy Adams and Nic Pothas, Hampshire drove home their advantage by reaching 383 on the second morning.
Worcestershire’s decision to field first eventually backfired on them – as it did in an innings defeat against Warwickshire at Edgbaston last week – and all their fragility was exposed.
Set 234 to avoid the follow-on, they seemed to be cruising along in an opening stand of 70 by Daryl Mitchell and Stephen Moore. But two wickets for James Tomlinson and one for David Griffiths on his 24th birthday put Hampshire in charge.
Moeen Ali stayed for 13 overs until he was lbw to Dimitri Mascarenhas, and Ben Smith’s game of patience ended when he was caught at first slip, lunging forward to Dominic Cork after making nine in 56 balls.
With five wickets falling to the seamers for the addition of 41 runs, leg-spinner Imran Tahir ran through the lower order with 4-18 in six overs. After trapping Alexei Kervezee with his first ball, he secured two more lbw decisions and had Steven Davies caught at deep midwicket.
With all confidence gone after losing all 10 wickets within 39 overs, Worcestershire were in no state to hold off Cork when he ripped out three wickets for one run in 13 deliveries with the new ball.
Mitchell and Vikram Solanki were both lbw to balls that seemed to do little off the pitch, and Smith was quickly on his way after being caught by Adams for the second time in two hours.
Moore was out pulling Tomlinson to midwicket. But Moeen and Davies, both unbeaten with 31, managed to stave off the possibility of a two-day defeat.
If there was the tiniest consolation for Worcestershire, it came at the start of the day with a dramatic improvement in Moeen’s career bowling figures when Hampshire batted on for 40 minutes.
After taking only three championship wickets in four seasons with his occasional off-breaks, the former Warwickshire batsman claimed the remaining two wickets for a return of 4-29 when Cork was caught at long-on for 43.