Cricket: Hick and Rhodes make killings: Michael Austin reports from Worcester

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The Independent Online
Worcestershire 409-7; v Warwickshire

ATTRITION ruled yesterday, except when Graeme Hick batted. The cognoscenti, those who have played in assorted derby games, reckon that this particular contest might come second in modern times only to Leicestershire meeting Northamptonshire.

They discount even that eminent collision between Yorkshire and Lancashire. Hick knows now't of that but made 146 off 237 balls to be followed by a most unlikely centurion, Steve Rhodes from 275 balls in five and a quarter hours, probably the longest innings of his life. The bottom line is that Worcestershire are in full command on a 'nothing' pitch, the same used intermittently, through weather interference, for the four-day Nottinghamshire match last week. By day eight, Warwickshire's mission to beat Worcestershire twice in a Championship season for the first time in 59 years will have become impossible.

Hick made it so. His 67th first-class hundred, 49th in England and 22nd on this ground, was a rhapsody of power and timing, despite the pitch. Hick's artistic innings contrasted with a career-best 116 not out from Rhodes, which bordered on the artisan, but nevertheless was equally valuable.

Rhodes, a well-coiffured Yorkshireman, made his debut for his native county 11 years ago and had previously scored only one first-class hundred, for Worcestershire against Derbyshire four years ago. His innings reminded England's selectors of his qualifications for the A tour to Australia next winter.

Warwickshire persevered, but watched helplessly as Worcestershire advanced from 244 for 5 on Hick's run-out dismissal from a throw by Dermot Reeve to the riches of 400 and beyond.

The announcement of Graham Dilley's retirement on medical advice soured Worcestershire's run-rich day. After battling against a chronic knee injury and struggling to overcome Achilles tendon trouble, Dilley, 33, now has a serious neck condition. With a displaced disc pressing on the spinal cord, he needs major surgery. Dilley played in 41 Tests and 36 one-day internationals.