Magical Moeen mauls Red Rose
Off-spinner Moeen Ali collected his second six-wicket haul of the match as Worcestershire clinched their first LV= County Championship Division One win of the season with a comprehensive 205-run victory over Lancashire inside three days at Old Trafford.
Despite being bowled out for 139 in their second innings, Daryl Mitchell’s men encountered few problems in sweeping aside the Lancashire top order and eventually dismissed the home side for 63 in just 31.1 overs.
Only Gareth Cross reached double figures and the Red Rose’s paltry total is their lowest at Old Trafford since they were bowled out for 62 by Somerset in 1963.
But the tumble of wickets came as no surprise on a pitch that helped the spinners from the first morning; 20 wickets fell for just 193 runs on what turned out to be the final day of the match.
Members of the ECB Pitch Liaison Panel Jack Birkenshaw and Bill Hughes were inspecting the Old Trafford strip during the tea interval.
Glen Chapple’s batsmen never looked remotely capable of reaching their 269-run victory target and were 33 for six at one stage as Worcestershire’s bowlers took their side to their first four-day win in 11 matches since they beat Lancashire at New Road last season.
Seamer Alan Richardson dismissed openers Paul Horton and Stephen Moore before Moeen had Karl Brown caught by Vikram Solanki in the leg trap with the third ball of his spell.
The rest of the afternoon was something of a procession as none of the Lancashire batsmen were able to cope with Moeen on a turning pitch.
The off-spinner took three wickets in his first 12 balls and finished with 6-29 in the innings and a career-best 12-96 in the match
Slow left-arm spinner Shaaiq Choudhry also took two wickets and wicketkeeper Ben Scott completed a fine match by claiming five second-innings victims.
In the morning session, Lancashire had given themselves some hope of having a manageable target to chase by reducing Worcestershire to 69 for five, but Gareth Andrew’s rapid 29 and Vikram Solanki’s fine 50 quickly crushed those hopes
Nonetheless, Steven Croft took a career-best 6-41 and finished with match figures of 9-105, although he will be one of the few home players to look back on this game with any pleasure.
The result leaves Worcestershire just five points behind Lancashire with two games in hand and the 2011 County Champions are now hovering perilously close to the relegation zone, having played more matches than any of their rivals.