YORKSHIRE STEPPED up their Championship challenge when an impressive spell by Darren Gough put them on the way to victory by an innings and 160 runs against Worcestershire at wet and windy New Road.
The England fast bowler prepared for his home Test match at Headingley on Thursday by taking 3 for 8 in 15 balls on his way to a season's best return of 5 for 36 in 11.5 overs.
Worcestershire, outplayed throughout, scorned the help of the weather by surrendering for 94 despite stubborn resistance by the nightwatchman Stuart Lampitt, who batted for nearly two and a half hours to make 24. The morning session was washed out and when they resumed at 19 for 2 Gough sparked a collapse to 40 for 5, and his pace partner, Gavin Hamilton, finished the job with 4 for 17 for match figures of 7 for 37.
A fourth win of the season gave Yorkshire a share of third place with Gloucestershire, 42 points behind the leaders Surrey, and raised hopes of a first title in 30 years. Their captain, David Byas, said: "We have now got a break during the Test match and we have put ourselves in an ideal position in the Championship race. We have a game in hand and Surrey have yet to come to Headingley."
Although Yorkshire theoretically had 15.1 overs to spare at the end, they only just beat the return of rain. After losing 73 overs on Saturday, they had to wait nearly three hours before continuing their bid to capture the last eight wickets.
Gough answered the call by making the vital breakthrough when Graeme Hick, still seven runs shorts of 1,000 for the summer, played a poor shot and was caught at backward point by James Middlebrook for 12. He struck again four balls later when Richard Blakey held a chance behind from Vikram Solanki at the second attempt.
Worcestershire's captain, Tom Moody, fell to a nonchalant slip catch by his fellow Australian, Darren Lehmann, before David Leatherdale held up his native county with 30 in a stand of 40 with Lampitt, but Hamilton brought Yorkshire back into contention by taking 3 for 1 in 12 deliveries.
Leatherdale, lbw, and Steve Rhodes, another victim for Blakey, went in successive balls, and Richard Illingworth steered a catch to Middlebrook in the gully. Richard Stemp ended Lampitt's defiance with Blakey's sixth dismissal of the match and, with rain falling again, Gough returned to remove Phil Newport leg before.