Cricket: Hick and Moody put Middlesex to flight

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The Independent Online
Worcestershire 435-4 v Middlesex

GRAEME HICK is not a bad start to a player's wicket-taking career. And the England Test batsman ensured that Ian Blanchett's first-class debut would be a memorable one when he cut a widish delivery hard, but straight, to the waiting Paul Weekes at backward point. Job done. Except for one small detail; Blanchett bowled that wicket-taking delivery shortly before 6pm last evening, when Hick had already passed 150 on a flat track.

Still, the 22-year-old Blanchett, who was born in Melbourne but brought up in Norfolk, had at least avoided having to bowl at Hick in the heat of the day when the Worcestershire batsman was red hot. Indeed, there could have been a second illustrious victim in Blanchett's next over when Tom Moody, who had shared in a fourth-wicket stand of 222 with Hick, miscued a pull when he had reached 113. But he survived the chance when Richard Kettleborough spilled the ball at deep midwicket.

But the day belonged to Hick. There is an almost robotic quality to his batting in this form, he rarely strays outside the parameters laid down by those who designed and constructed him. The shots are perfectly executed and the only rush of blood came a few minutes before Hick reached the 98th first-class hundred of his career when he pulled a short delivery from Richard Johnson hard and low for six over mid-wicket. Moody was not half bad either, ending the day unbeaten on 132, while Vikram Solanki scored 78.

l Craig White, the Yorkshire all-rounder, included a hat-trick, dismissing Mark Alleyne, Martyn Ball and Jon Lewis, in a spell of 5 for 1 in 10 balls on his way to the best bowling figures of his career, 8 for 55. Gloucestershire were bowled out for 329 in the Championship match at Gloucester.