There were problems off the pitch as well, when the coach carrying the Australians around England became stuck axle-deep in the quagmire that was meant to pass as a car park. But if that was eventually hauled out by a tow truck, the players were unable to extricate themselves after David Leatherdale with 5 for 10 and Gavin Hayes with 4 for 40 had skittled the visitors for a paltry 121.
This ground, with its quintessential views of Worcester Cathedral, has not always been kind to sides from Down Under. When Bradman played, success or failure was often judged on whether he had opened his account with a single or double century.
Not so recently, Allan Border's side lost a three-day match here in 1989 inside two days. Mind you, although they went on to lose the Texaco Trophy, they won the Ashes four Tests to nil. So any inferences that Australia are in terminal decline are a tad premature.
On that occasion, the pitch was so sporty that when given the option of playing a one-day match on the third day, the visitors politely declined and had nets instead. In truth, yesterday's pitch was nowhere near as brutal, though Worcestershire, having won the toss and fielded, undeniably had the better of the conditions, which eased as the day's sunshine quietened things down.
The surface, slightly damp from recent thunderstorms, certainly helped those who hit the seam and - as Mark Taylor later put it - "got the ball in the right areas". As this included most of the Worcestershire bowlers, but only two of the Australians - Warne and Kasprowicz - Taylor had every right to sound concerned, though he reckoned it was possibly a good thing to "have a game like this early in the tour".
Opening the innings, Taylor appeared to be building on the progress he has so far made at Arundel and Northampton. He and Greg Blewett looked untroubled until Blewett was unluckily bowled off his pads, as he shaped to whip Haynes through the leg-side. Twenty runs later, Taylor edged one pushed across him to give Steve Rhodes the first of five catches. That left Australia on 53 for 2, a little hiccup maybe, but with few clues of the crisis to come. When Michael Bevan struck Haynes for two glorious fours in successive balls, few had given more than a passing thought to the state of the pitch.
Not, that is, until Haynes, a tidy medium-pacer, produced what was possibly the ball of the match, a snorter that bounced and seamed away from the burgeoning Bevan, who could do little except watch the edge nestle safely into the keeper's gloves.
But if Haynes, who also took the prized scalp of Steve Waugh, thought his figures unlikely to be bettered all month, they were eclipsed soon after as Leather- dale demolished the remainder of the batting order. In just five remarkable overs Leatherdale uprooted five batsmen. Unsurprisingly, for a player who also hit the winning runs, he walked the man of the match award.
With such a small total to defend, Australia required early wickets and lots of them if they were going to make the home team struggle. As it transpired, neither criterion was met and it was left to Shane Warne to make the breakthrough in the 22nd over as the left-handed Weston top- edged a sweep.
Hereabouts, despite the example of their captain Moody, Worcestershire hesitated as Mike Kasprowicz, enjoying a switch to the Diglis End, removed the skipper and Haynes in the space of three balls. Both were well caught by Warne at second slip, who later held Graeme Hick at deep gully as he carelessly cut at a long-hop from Blewett.
Having not been selected for England, Hick had the token satisfaction of playing some glorious strokes in front of both Graham Gooch and David Lloyd, who were present in a ground packed to the rafters with incredulous supporters. One streaking off-drive in particular, off McGrath, and a clubbed four through the covers off Warne, took the breath away. England may yet regret leaving him on the sidelines.
Worcestershire won toss
*M A Taylor c Rhodes b Haynes 14
G S Blewett b Haynes 22
S R Waugh c Rhodes b Haynes 21
M G Bevan c Rhodes b Haynes 8
J L Langer lbw b Leatherdale 15
A C Gilchrist lbw b Lampitt 10
I A Healy not out 9
B P Julian c Moody b Leatherdale 1
S K Warne c Rhodes b Leatherdale 3
M S Kasprowicz c Lampitt
b Leatherdale 2
G D McGrath c Rhodes b Leatherdale 2
Extras (lb4 w6 nb4) 14
Total (35 overs) 121
Fall: 1-33 2-53 3-64 4-78 5-104 6-104 7-105 8-109 9-113.
Bowling: Newport 6-0-18-0; Haynes 10-1-40-4; Sheriyar 7-0-29-0; Lampitt 7-0-20-1; Leatherdale 5-1-10-5.
*T M Moody c Warne b Kasprowicz 32
W P C Weston c Julian b Warne 12
G A Hick c Warne b Blewett 35
G R Haynes c Warne b Kasprowicz 0
V S Solanki c Gilchrist b Warne 6
K R Spiring not out 9
D A Leatherdale not out 8
Extras (b5 lb1 w11 nb4) 21
Total (for 5, 38.5 overs) 123
Fall: 1-58 2-65 3-65 4-87 5-114.
Did not bat: S J Rhodes, P J Newport, A Sheriyar, S R Lampitt.
Bowling: McGrath 10-1-32-0; Kasprowicz 10-3-13-2; Julian 6-3-13-0; Warne 10-1-36-2; Blewett 2.5-0-23-1.
Umpires: D R Shepherd and R Julian.Reuse content