Second day (of four): Worcestershire (328 for four, six pts) are 80 runs behind Somerset (408, six pts) with four first innings wickets in hand.
When you?ve just scored your third County Championship century in as many innings, as Ben Smith did in splendid style for Worcestershire yesterday, you have every right to expect a few headlines.
But the former captain still found himself upstaged last night by the current Worcestershire skipper.
Gareth Batty?s two-day stint as stand-in captain for Vikram Solanki has been short if not all sweet. But it effectively ended last night when he walked off unbeaten at the end of the day on 16.
Instead of being allowed to resume his innings this morning he will instead report on England duty to prepare for a meaningless Twenty20 warm-up friendly ahead of the forthcoming oneday tri-nations series against Bangladesh and Australia.
Graeme Hick takes over as captain for the remaining two days and young Darryl Mitchell takes Batty?s place in the team. And it will all prove, no doubt, the sort of quaint teaser to trouble teams of sports quiz enthusiasts years from now.
But why, when Ashley Giles? injury problems have been so well chronicled and Batty?s call-up inevitable, nobody at the ECB had the foresight to see this farcical state of events unfolding is a complete mystery. That said, it?s probably about par for the course given the puzzling
things that go on in Worcestershire cricketing circles these days.
Once again, off-field events overshadowed another healthy day?s run-making in coach Tom Moody?s final game.
Somerset eked out another 49 runs to their overnight total before, in successive overs, Andy Caddick lost his off stump and the previous day?s centurion Matthew Wood was caught at second flip.
Worcester then got off to a bad start when they lost young opener Steve Davies in the first over.
Already nervy after a failure on his Championship debut against Durham last week, teenager Davies was done no favours when opening partner Stephen Moore called him for a suicidal single from the very first ball of the innings.
Davies would have been run-out had Aaron Laraman hit from midwicket. But his reprieve did not even last the rest of the over before Caddick had him caught at slip. That brought in Hick but his serene progress to yet another half-century was checked only by a five-minute delay due to ?sun glare? at the Sports Centre End.
Having lunched just three short of his 50, Hick was able to hoist his bat with a pull through midwicket, only to then be beaten shortly after by a steepling delivery from his old England colleague Caddick which he edged to slip.
It was half an hour later before the more patient Moore, dropped on 11 at second slip by Ian Blackwell, reached his half-century. Just when he seemed set to go on and complete a second ton of the season, he briefly lost his concentration in playing forward to Blackwell and gave Graeme Smith a third catch at slip.
Worcestershire?s Smith, in otherwise masterful form, also used a life when dropped on 10, again to Blackwell low to his right at second slip.
But the popular ex-skipper has more than earned a slice or two of luck and he was due another in reaching his third century on the spin. With Smith on 98, the everdangerous Caddick returned to the attack and immediately found the edge of his bat with his extra bounce. This one, however, sailed fortuitously over the heads of the slips.
Zander de Bruyn?s dismissal later in the day to the first lbw decision of the match left the visitors pondering who to send in next. Batty was perhaps an odd choice, had Worcester not wanted to risk losing the option of Mitchell batting today.
In fact, the rare sight of 12 batsman?s names on the same scorecard would have been avoided had Graeme Smith?s safe hands not failed him for once when he put Batty down at slip off the day?s penultimate ball. As it is, young Mitchell will walk out to the middle instead of Batty this morning to make his Championship debut.