Cricket: Hick and Moody give Worcestershire control

Warwickshire 252 and 8-1 Worcestershire 448
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The Independent Online
Worcestershire have surprised a few people, maybe including themselves, by their surge up the Championship table, but they are not half bad at accepting the main chance. Helped by another fielding lapse, they ground out a very handy lead yesterday to bat Warwickshire out of the game.

It was gritty, old fashioned stuff, as befits a contest that many say makes the Roses match seem like a Vicarage tea party on comparison. Warwickshire will now find themselves under pressure on their own variable pitch, especially if the suggestions of wear and tear become reality.

After their misadventures in the field the previous day when, incidentally, television pictures suggested that Nick Knight had taken a perfectly legitimate catch when Graeme Hick had made 10, Warwickshire could have done without dropping another slip catch as early as the sixth over.

Richard Illingworth, previously missed at 11 and 23, escaped again at 81 when Graeme Welch put him down off Dougie Brown; Warwickshire were thus condemned to going through the pre-lunch session for the second successive day without getting the same pair of batsmen out, which must be some kind of macabre record.

With Hick quietly picking off, anything wayward at the other end, all was sublime in Worcestershire's world until, with Illingworth on 99, the game became anaestethised for seven overs until he obtained the single needed for his fourth first-class hundred, three of them made as nightwatchman. His job done, he was caught behind off Ashley Giles after facing 273 balls.

Hick reached his fifth century of the season with rather more panache, driving Neil Smith for a straight six. He had turned to acknowledge the applause from the dressing-room before the ball crossed the boundary rope. When he got out, after 250 balls, from a stroke that owed something either to weariness or boredom, Tom Moody anchored the innings, but well as he played in reaching three figures from 155 balls, the sight of Giles straightening more than the odd ball would have been just as encouraging to Worcestershire eyes.