Worcestershire 247 (Mitchell 118, Mennie 4-43, Clark 4-56) and 484-7 dec (Mitchell 163, Guptill 111, Fell 62, Cox 58*) beat Lancashire 130 (Jennings 55, Barnard 5-34) and 399 (Jennings 177, Davies 64, Barnard 4-95) by 202 runs
In reality, the chances of Lancashire reaching their monumental target of 602 to win here were always extremely remote. The fact that no one in the history of first-class cricket has scored more than 541 to win a match in the fourth innings is because, even when the best part of two days are at a team’s disposal, scoring so many runs before the opposition takes 10 wickets is extraordinarily difficult.
Yet Glenn Chapple, who has no doubt seen a few potential records fail to materialise over his career, confessed that even he, for a short time at least, while Keaton Jennings and Dane Vilas were making relatively untroubled progress on the final morning, and six wickets were still in hand, allowed himself to contemplate the possibility that history might be made.
“There is no point at the start in saying you are going to score 602, it is a ridiculous thing to contemplate,” he said.
“Faced with a run chase like that it is just a case of concentrate on your performance, assess what your best chance is of staying in and scoring runs, and ultimately see where that can lead. And I think everyone realised that had Keaton and Dane been able to sustain their partnership into the afternoon it might eventually have become a reality.
“But the truth is that we lost the match not because they could not do that but because of two passages of play on the first day.
“After having Worcester 81 for 5, we let them score nigh-on 250, which was too many on that pitch. Then after being 77 for 0 ourselves with six or seven overs to go, we ended up five down.
“And though we played very well to score nearly 400 in the last innings, when Keaton Jennings set such a fine example of discipline and professional approach, we should not have been four down overnight. So there are things we need to look at.”
This is not a story, though, about a Lancashire failure, but about a Worcestershire victory, their first of a frustrating season, achieved moreover with their two leading wicket-takers sidelined, but whose stand-ins – the latest of whom, 19-year-old Pat Brown, is still a student at Worcester University – showed character and resilience on a durable pitch to make sure the winning chance was not wasted.
Seeing Brown claim the prized scalp of Jennings, for 177, and Ed Barnard add four more wickets to his first-innings five, gave Brett D’Oliveira, making a successful debut as stand-in captain for the injured Joe Leach, as much pleasure as Daryl Mitchell’s two hundreds and Martin Guptill’s century on debut.
“The conditions got better to bat on,” D’Oliveira said. “It did start to get a bit lower towards the end and we got a couple of lbws but overall it was a good wicket and they have some very good players, so it took everything to get those 11 wickets.
“Pat Brown getting Keaton Jennings out was crucial, a moment that stands out among several outstanding performances. And Ed – it was a real challenge for him in that second innings and he really did work hard and deserved the rewards he got.
“I’m proud of the players. We have been in good positions in a couple of games and haven’t quite done it so it feels good to have rammed home our advantage this time.
“They have shown resilience and fight. A couple of years ago at 81 for 5 we might have crumbled but this time we showed we could fight back.”
Vilas and Jennings both fell before lunch, Vilas bowled off an inside edge by Barnard, Jennings by one from Brown that kept a shade low and came with added zip too. Jordan Clark and Danny Lamb, whose historic appearance here as a concussion substitute is a footnote not to be forgotten, hinted at grinding out a draw but a double bowling change changed the dynamic in a flash.
Ross Whiteley, whose left-arm seamers are only occasionally required, claimed his first Championship wicket for three years when Ben Cox, standing up, took a sharp catch to remove Clark, opening up the tail for Barnard to see off, the last four wickets falling for one run in four overs.