Cricket: Bailey left empty handed

Worcs 551 & 272-7 dec Northants 403-5 dec & 319 Worcs win by 101 runs
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The Independent Online
There was always the promise of an entertaining day's cricket here if Worcestershire's declaration did not set an impossible target. Part of Tom Moody's problem was always going to be the ease with which Northamptonshire rattled out their runs in the first innings. The pitch looked full of runs, Worcestershire's attack hardly looked full of wickets for what was going to be a three ice-cream day.

In keeping with the high temperatures, the eventual asking rate - 421 from a minimum of 84 overs - was a tall order for the home county. Nor was history on their side. The highest total Northamptonshire had made in the fourth innings to win was 384 for 8, against these same opponents, as it happens, back in 1961.

To be fair to Moody, he kept Northamptonshire in the game, bowling his own gentle offbreaks unchanged from as early as the ninth over and giving Tim Curtis's occasional leg-spin an unaccustomed outing in the afternoon session. Maybe Rob Bailey, Moody's opposite number, had set the tone for a run feast by bowling his own offbreaks first thing in the morning as Worcestershire batted on for 10 overs and 53 runs.

All afternoon, however, it was Bailey the batter who contested centre stage with his rival captain, keeping his team in contention with a biffing, bashing 115 reached off 195 balls. It contained three sixes and 13 fours. In the second over after lunch he hit Moody straight for a four and two sixes off successive balls to bring the asking rate into line.

While Bailey was adding 58 in 11 overs with Russell Warren, and 103 in 26 overs with Kevin Curran, Northamptonshire looked on course. Losing Curran and David Sales, first ball, in two balls either side of tea cost them dear. At the same time, Worcestershire would also have been regretting the escape Bailey enjoyed at short-leg off Moody when he was 33.

Going into the last hour Northamptonshire needed 108 from 16 overs. Moody kept wheeling away, but with the ball keeping low for Gavin Haynes at the pavilion end, easy runs were not forthcoming. When David Ripley was well caught by Tim Curtis at short leg off the indefatigable Moody, that was really it for Northamptonshire. They lost their last four wickets in 14 balls and so, in the end, it was Long Tom's day, with five wickets in 34.4 overs. Fittingly, the last of them was Bailey's.