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Sizzling Smith shines before rain

Worcestershire CCC

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Lancashire opener Tom Smith struck one of the quickest one-day centuries in history before a rain-curtailed Clydesdale Bank 40 fixture against Worcestershire was abandoned at New Road.

The 26-year-old all-rounder made a triumphant return from a five-week injury lay-off by racing to three figures from 44 balls with eight fours and 10 sixes.

His whirlwind innings of 106 is equal fifth fastest in List A matches worldwide and places him joint third in domestic cricket.

Opening partner Stephen Moore also chalked up a century, but a mammoth total of 324 for four in a 37-over match counted for nothing when further rain prevented a reply.

Tom Smith

Tom Smith struck a remarkable 44-ball century but rain ensured Lancashire's clash with Worcestershire was eventually abandoned

With Lancashire having already qualified for the semi-finals - when they will host Warwickshire - and the home side scrambling at the foot of Group A, Smith seized his opportunity to put on a blockbuster performance.

At first there was nothing to hint at the destruction to come when young seamers Jack Shantry and Nick Harrison bowled four overs for a respectable 19 runs, yet the first warning shots were fired in a four-six-four burst off the former.

The real bombardment broke out in the eighth over as Smith targeted the unfortunate Harrison for three sixes and as many fours, most of which were heaved to the leg-side boundary.

With his fifty posted in 24 balls, he became unstoppable, taking three successive sixes off medium-pacer Joe Leach and then driving off-spinner Moeen Ali over long-on to complete his century with another maximum.

Moore was content to play second fiddle in a stand of 150 but, when Smith was bowled by Shantry from the 46th ball he faced, his opening partner moved smoothly to a 96-ball century.

An early escape in the gully, when Daryl Mitchell put down a sharp chance off Harrison, enabled Moore to reach 50 for the seventh time in 12 CB40 innings and also become the second batsman to pass 500 runs in this season’s competition.

Moore hit 11 fours and two sixes before he was caught at deep midwicket for 113, having put on 142 with Steven Croft who made 67 from 52 balls before holing out at long-on.

Brett D’Oliveira weathered the storm with some credit, bowling his eight overs for 37. Harrison picked up a couple of consolation wickets, but Lancashire comfortably registered their highest total in the 40-over competition.

The weather denied Vikram Solanki a final one-day innings for Worcestershire before he joins Surrey next summer.

The former county captain has been left out of this week’s LV= County Championship match against Middlesex at New Road, leaving the final home game against Warwickshire as his last opportunity to play on the ground.

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