Zaheer Khan served up an astonishing World Cup alternative at sun-kissed Chelmsford as he transformed this contest in the time it took England to finally do the business in Germany.
When England kicked off against Trinidad and Tobago at 5pm, Essex had not lost a wicket and were making a decent fist of replying to Worcestershire's overwhelming total of 650 for seven declared.
But, by the time they trooped off in Nuremberg, Zaheer had taken nine for 65, comfortably his career-best bowling figures, and just one more scalp away this morning from the first 'All 10' in English cricket in 12 years.
What made the Indian Test star's performance all the more remarkable was the way he suddenly made bowling look so treacherous on a track which Worcestershire's rampant batsmen had made look so benign.
Gareth Batty's excellent 112 not out, added to Phil Jaques' career-best 244 the previous day, continued a magnificent month. Since flaming June began, Steve Rhodes' men have piled up successive first innings scores of 587 for eight declared, 618 and now 650 for seven declared.
But Zaheer put the batters in the shade with a performance that threatens to make him only the 27th in cricket history (and the first Worcestershire player) to take all ten wickets in an innings and follow in an illustrious line led by Eric Hollies, Jim Laker (twice) andThe Birmingham Post's cricket correspondent Jack Bannister.
Zaheer's efforts from the tea interval onwards contrasted with the run-making that had gone before.
Resuming at 459 for five, Worcestershire simply carried on where they had left off. Batty was the main stay, coming close to getting a century before lunch, moving serenely on from 9 to 93 by the interval, interrupted only by the fall of Worcester's two wickets.
Steve Davies fell to a lazy swish outside off stump to edge to Tim Phillips at first slip and then Roger Sillence, who hit two sixes in a colourful 36 in a seventh-wicket stand of 80, tamely spooned a catch back to Phillips.
The declaration finally came after a swashbuckling century stand between Kabir and Batty, six overs after lunch. And that set Essex the daunting target of 501 just to avoid the follow-on.
It initially looked as if it would be a breeze when young openers Mark Pettini and Varun Chopra ran up a century stand. But, having taken tea at 94 for no wicket, Zaheer's return to the attack, this time at the Hayes Close End, swung the contest.
He should have had immediate reward, only for Graeme Hick to spill an edge from Chopra. But that only served to fire him up even more and in his next over he got his man, trapping him leg before for 53. And what happened next was extraordinary.
Pettini followed for 48 and Essex collapsed from 117 for no wicket to 150 for eight. Twice in successive overs, he was to claim two wickets, each time helped by catches for wicketkeeper Davies and Ben Smith at first slip.
And, with his seventh scalp, he bettered his previous career-best of six for 25, achieved playing for Baroda against Punjab on the subContinent four years ago.
A ninth-wicket rescue act brought a 35-run stand between Andre Adams and No 3 Ravi Bopara. But, in the final over of the day, his 16th in succession, Zaheer struck again to snare Adams. And that allowed him to put his feet up and contemplate a wicket-taking sequence that, between 5.14 and 6.53, had earned him nine for 28 in 69 balls.