Cricket: Barnett's lost cause

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The Independent Online
Worcs 591-7dec and 68-5 Gloucs 231 & 425 Worcestershire win by 5 wickets

GLOUCESTERSHIRE HAD won their five previous matches at this most picturesque of cricket grounds but the "scoreboard pressure" that Worcestershire applied with their first innings ultimately proved too much.

If the side batting first amasses more than 500, as Worcestershire did here, not only does it inflict nearly two tiring days in the field on the opposition batsmen, it also tells them that "any batter worth his name" should score runs on such a friendly surface. Add the pressure of knowing that over 350 is needed just to avoid the follow-on and it is understandable why the team batting second struggle to regain any of the psychological ground lost in the field.

Sides often collapse and although the second innings may be an improvement as bowlers tire it really does no more than delay the inevitable.

Yesterday followed that form. Needing to bat most of the day to salvage a draw, Gloucestershire suffered the worst possible start with the dismissal of Matt Windows in the eighth over of the morning, lbw playing no shot to Alamgir Sheriyar.

Kim Barnett and Mark Alleyne needed to put together a substantial partnership and for much of the morning they did, but three wickets in seven balls on the stroke of lunch left Gloucestershire floundering.

Barnett did, however, celebrate his 39th birthday with a century littered with exquisite drives through the off-side before becoming Sheriyar's 68th victim of the season, Steven Rhodes completing an excellent catch low to his right, and the next ball Alleyne was caught behind off inside edge and pad.

Unhappy with the decision Alleyne delayed at the wicket, but if it was a bad one it still did not compare to his own mistake on the first morning when he inserted the opposition having won the toss.

Jon Lewis and Martyn Ball did empty the sponsors tents with an exhilarating last wicket partnership of 130 off 20 overs, a mere single short of the record set in 1923, and when Lewis played on for a career best 62 to end the fun, Worcestershire were left needing 66 for their third victory in four games.

This was duly achieved by some well judged strikes by Tom Moody after Mike Smith had benefited from some complacency to claim four wickets.

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