Final day: Worcestershire defeated Essex by eight wickets
It took Worcestershire just over an hour and threequarters to complete victory by eight wickets against Essex at the County Ground with Graeme Hick and Stephen Moore producing an unbeaten partnership of 146 runs to ease their side to their third championship success of the season.
Hick celebrated his 39th birthday with 76 not out while opener Moore finished on 63 after the visitors overcame a testing few overs from Darren Gough before playing with flair and fluency to race to the 167 run target.
It took only 25 overs of the morning session for the batsmen to confirm their side's superiority in a match they had dominated from the opening day with Hick striking 13 boundaries including a six whilst Moore was also played in lively fashion that saw him collect 44 of his totals in boundaries.
Hick cut and drove freely and was particularly severe on medium-pacer Ashley Cowan while Moore also executed well timed drives on both sides of the wicket as the pair dominated proceedings to quickly destroy any faint hopes that Essex may have held of a shock win.
The visitors resumed on 21-2 with Hick setting the tone by taking three runs off the first ball of the morning although there was one painful alarm for Moore who was hit on the wrist by a lifting delivery from Gough when the batsman had scored seven but he recovered after some four minutes and having received attention from the physiotherapist.
His discomfort was increased when Gough slanted successive deliveries across the right-hander that beat him comprehensively each time whilst the luckless bowler also beat Hick on the stroke.
However, both quickly grew in confidence with Hick reaching 70 by hoisting Cowan straight and over the boundary rope, a shot which took the total into three figures. With Essex captain Ronnie Irani bizarrely continuing with Cowan, the batsmen took full advantage also turning their attentions to the lively Dale Steyn who generated pace but little control.
When Cowan was finally withdrawn from the firing line having conceded 40 runs in seven overs, Moore welcomed replacement Tony Palladino by despatching to the boundary off successive deliveries before a false shot produced a snicked single taking the opener on to 50 and his side within 25 runs of victory.
The task was completed in 19 further deliveries with, fittingly, Hick sealing the win, turning Palladino off his hips into the leg side for two runs and in good time for lunch.
Assistant coach Steven Rhodes was full of praise for his side. "I think we pretty well dominated the game throughout really. Matt Mason was an influential performer for us throughout with the ball and when we batted, Ben Smith played excellently.
Overall there were some very solid performances but we've been playing some good positive cricket all season without always making the most of our efforts."
With Hick now into the veteran stage of his career, Worcestershire director of cricket, Tom Moody believes that the prolific player could be around for some time yet.
"As long as the fire rages within, he'll score runs as long as he wants to," he said.
"He'll dictate to cricket when he wants to retire, not the other way around. He's proved that he's still a dominant force in the county game, he continues to work hard and is still the ultimate professional.