Flintoff caught cold by Ali strike as Worcestershire take command

Lancashire 196
Worcestershire 59-1

At a time when counties are being encouraged to work together for the good of a common cause, namely the England team, Worcestershire were yesterday guilty of acting in a rather uncharitable manner.

At a time when counties are being encouraged to work together for the good of a common cause, namely the England team, Worcestershire were yesterday guilty of acting in a rather uncharitable manner. When Lancashire's Stuart Law was caught down the leg-side by the wicketkeeper, Jamie Pipe, the stage was set for Worcestershire to play their part in helping Andrew Flintoff find the form which could help England regain the Ashes.

But Kabir Ali and Graeme Hick, present and former England team-mates of Flintoff, had other ideas. Ali, the Worcestershire fast bowler, would love to be playing for England with the Lancashire all-rounder during the summer, and he did his chances no harm when he dismissed the 27-year-old before he had troubled the scorers.

Matt Mason was the pick of Worcestershire's attack but it was Ali who kick-started the home side's recovery when dismissing Law, Flintoff and Malachy Loye in a six-over spell. At one stage it looked as though Lancashire would struggle to reach 150, but a 66-run partnership between Warren Hegg and James Anderson gave the visitors an air of respectability. Hegg's fifty came off 39 balls.

On a slow seaming pitch, Lancashire's 196 could be competitive, especially if the visitors bowl as wisely as their opponents. And Dominic Cork gave Lancashire the perfect start when he trapped Stephen Moore for nought in the second over of Worcestershire's reply, but this proved to be their only success.

Hick was dropped by Mark Chilton at third slip on 15 and by the close he looked ominous on 32. Lancashire will need to get rid of him early today if they want to stay in the contest.

Ali found the outside edge of Flintoff's bat with a delivery he could do little about. Flintoff's uncontrolled push flew to Hick at second slip.

"I was probably a little eager and went after one I could have left," Flintoff said. "But the ankle felt fine. I don't know when I will be back bowling again, it's very much day to day at the moment."

Lancashire's openers looked in little trouble against the new ball. But with the first ball after lunch, Chaminda Vaas bowled Iain Sutcliffe. Vaas took two further wickets before Mason cleaned up the tail.

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