Cricket: Moody leads rise of the Royals

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WORCESTERSHIRE ROYALS went to within four points of leaders Yorkshire Phoenix at the top of the First Division of the National League yesterday by powering to a seven-wicket win over Hampshire Hawks.

A 95-run stand between Tom Moody and Graeme Hick helped take the Royals to victory at New Road. The pair ripped into the Hawks' attack to enable Worcestershire to reach their 162-run target with 18.4 overs to spare.

Captain Moody, in his first league appearance of the season following his World Cup-winning exploits with Australia, hammered out an innings of 55, containing nine fours off 54 balls. His entertaining double act spanned 12 overs with Hick - who went on to score 54, which included one six and six fours off 56 deliveries.

Following their dismissals, Worcestershire were guided to their third league victory on the trot by Vikram Solanki (15 not out) and David Leatherdale, who was unbeaten on 17.

Earlier, the Midlanders had been impressively served by the seamer Stuart Lampitt after bottom-of-the-table Hampshire had made a sound start to their innings after winning the toss. He took four for 18 to help restrict the Hawks to a modest 161 for 9.

His introduction to the attack, after openers Jason Laney and Derek Kenway had put on 49 in 13 overs, had an immediate impact when he struck with his first delivery. The victim was Laney for 21 and sparked a dramatic nose-dive in Hants' fortunes.

Lampitt's third delivery accounted for Robin Smith with his next ball trapping Will Kendall leg before. His hopes of a hat-trick, however, were thwarted by Dimitri Mascarenhas, who made Hampshire's highest score of 55, which included one six and six fours off 83 balls.

Moody, however, hastened the Hawks' decline by removing Kenway with Lampitt turning up the heat by ousting John Stephenson, thanks to Steve Rhodes' 300th league dismissal behind the stumps.

An uncharacteristic lapse by Rhodes, however, enabled Mascarenhas to survive a straight forward catch off Lampitt, while on 24. Mascerenhas finally fell to a sharp caught and bowled effort by Gavin Haynes after putting on 49 in 15 overs with Shaun Udal.

n Floodlit internationals are to be introduced next year, although proposals to stage two England games at Durham have been rejected by the ECB management board. Some venues for day-night matches have been decided, though, including Edgbaston, the Oval and Old Trafford during a triangular tournament in July featuring England, West Indies and Zimbabwe.