Cricket: Classy Moxon makes merry

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Worcestershire 355 and 1-3

Yorkshire 489-5 dec

A CAREER-BEST 274 not out by the Yorkshire captain, Martyn Moxon, together with a maiden century by 23-year-old Paul Grayson laid the foundations of a first innings lead of 134 for the visitors here yesterday. The pair added exactly 200 for the third wicket, but it has to be recorded that Worcestershire's bowling rarely rose above mediocrity, while some of their ground fielding was downright sloppy. In fact, losing three wickets in five balls to Peter Hartley at the close could not have summed up Worcestershire's performance more adequately.

So what does it say about English cricket that the less impressive of these two teams go to Lord's next Saturday for their second cup final of the summer? Not a lot. It does, however, say something about Worcestershire's approach, and come 18 September it may be hard to argue that they have not got their priorities right. In the materialistic manner of these modern times, that is.

Even if they again fail to beat Warwickshire on Saturday, and assuming for argument's sake that they finish runners-up in the Sunday League, in which they are currently joint leaders with Warwickshire with a game in hand, Worcestershire will bank pounds 46,500 in prize money alone this season. That's pounds 22,250 more than they would have collected if they were runners-up in the championship, as they were last season. So what we have here at New Road is a one-day county, built around the batting talents of Tim Curtis, Tom Moody and Graeme Hick at the top of the order. The bowling has to be steady, rather than wicket-taking, and the return of Phil Newport will help ensure that next weekend. The fielding, one hopes, will be an improvement on yesterday's.

Moxon's double hundred was the third of his career, just as coincidentally this was his third three-figure innings in the shadow of Worcester's cathedral. Resuming on 53 yesterday morning, he took a while to get going, but then Yorkshire were still 257 in arrears and a major innings was required. Play was 11 overs old before he had a boundary, but with the introduction of James Brinkley's medium pace the scoring rate picked up. From two of his first three overs, Grayson turned or drove five fours and was soon matching Moxon.

By lunch Moxon had reached his century, off 239 balls with 17 fours, while Grayson's fifth successive championship 50 brought up their 100 partnership. Yorkshire had promoted him up the order to number four for this match, and with a series of searing offside drives, he rewarded their confidence with an innings positive in attitude and application. As if not fully fed at lunch, he tucked into the afternoon bowling with great gusto, several times whacking the ball over cover, and his hundred, off 157 balls, featured 17 fours.

Richard Blakey's 14 in 19 overs belonged to a different game plan, but with Moxon at his most classical this scarcely mattered. His timing turned the ball through midwicket, a full follow-through drove it imperiously through the covers. When his 200 came along Moxon had hit 32 fours, while his 250, off 464 balls, contained 38 fours. By the time he declared just after six o'clock, Moxon had passed Frank Lowson's highest for Yorkshire against Worcestershire - 259 not out in 1953 - and Yorkshire's best since the war: Len Hutton's 270 not out against Hampshire in 1947.