Daryl Mitchell led Worcestershire to a fourth-straight Specsavers County Championship victory with a second innings 78 not out as they comfortably chased 148 to beat Northamptonshire by eight wickets at Wantage Road but there was a serious footnote to the third day after Richard Levi was struck on the head while batting.
Levi ducked a well-directer bouncer from Josh Tongue in the over before lunch and there was immediately concern for the South African who received treatment at the wicket. He was helped from the field and was taken to hospital in an ambulance but later tweeted to say he had not suffered a fracture but was diagnosed with mild concussion.
Given the all clear after my blow this afternoon. Thankfully no fracture just a concussion and observation. Thanks to all those who helped 👊— Richard Levi (@RichardLevi88) May 28, 2017
Levi had been playing well, making 28, and being forced to retire hurt was a blow to Northants’ chance of setting a testing fourth innings target.
As it was, 148 was never likely to be too taxing. Rory Kleinveldt did take two wickets, including extending Tom Fell’s poor run having him caught at midwicket for 11 but Worcestershire again had Mitchell to steer them along. He followed up his first-innings 161 with a 68-ball half-century, as he and Joe Clarke brought Worcestershire home, Mitchell clubbing Steven Crook for four consectuvie boundaries to wrap up the match,
Northants did at least make their opposition work harder on the third day having been outplayed over the first two days. They applied themselves a little better in their second innings making 343, chiefly through Rob Keogh’s 88 not out - his best effort this season - but were again hindered in setting a larger target by some soft dismissals.
Ben Duckett was among those who were left to regret their shot selection. Duckett had only gone past fifty twice this season in both red and white ball cricket before this innings and was looking for a score ahead of the England Lions series against South Africa A that starts on Thursday.
He resumed 25 not out and survived two top-edged hooks that just evaded long leg and deep square respectively. He found his touch with three boundaries in an over against Jack Shantry, including a fierce pull over midwicket, and passed fifty in 72 balls with nine fours.
But to the third ball of Nathan Lyon’s first over of the day, Duckett went to paddle sweep a ball drifting towards off stump, missed, and was given out by umpire Patrick Gustard. Duckett walked off in great frustration in front of the England national selector James Whittaker.
His was one of only two wickets to fall in the morning session after nightwatchman Nathan Buck, having played a short ball barrage very competently, chipped Shantry’s third ball of the day to mid-off.
But after lunch Northants failed to get a significant partnership together. Adam Rossington never settled against Lyon and slapped a ball only just over the head of mid-off. He over-balanced to a ball that turned down the leg side and Ben Cox effected a very sharp stumping.
Rory Kleinveldt provided a bright flurry including two sixes - one that cleared the perimeter wall of the ground into the houses along the Clarke Road - before he lifted Lyon to long-on. In between those dismissals, Crook perhaps played the worst shot of the match, chipping Shantry straight to mid-on.
It meant Keogh ran out of partners. Dropped on 28 by Tom Fell at silly mid-on, he went through to his first Championship fifty of the season in 95 balls and seven boundaries, the pick of them a perfect straight drive against Joe Leach. He was the one Northants player who showed the application for the situation, calmly adding 31 runs between lunch and tea and had a partner stayed with him, Worcestershire may have had a stiffer task in the fourth inninings.