McGrath strikes back

Just imagine you are a man short, and you receive a call from Glenn McGrath begging to be picked. The consummate Australian paceman did just that for the Malcolm Marshall memorial match on Thursday, such is his admiration for the great West Indian fast bowler. Worcestershire, however, put his name down for the County Championship Division Two match against Gloucestershire before he picked up the phone.

Just imagine you are a man short, and you receive a call from Glenn McGrath begging to be picked. The consummate Australian paceman did just that for the Malcolm Marshall memorial match on Thursday, such is his admiration for the great West Indian fast bowler. Worcestershire, however, put his name down for the County Championship Division Two match against Gloucestershire before he picked up the phone.

His county have not won a match since 25 June, just after they beat their West Country rivals in the NatWest Trophy only to be told to replay the match because they fielded an ineligible player in Kabir Ali, a pace tyro who is currently representing England Under-19s. That record is not good enough for a team containing McGrath, especially as he will be answering his country's call for the one-day series against South Africa after this match.

When his side were bowled out for 98 at New Road on the first day, it was a call to arms. He responded by grabbing 7 for 29, his first five-wicket haul at headquarters, as the visitors were dismissed for 87. Worcestershire made 591, their highest against this opposition, last year, but it is the batting which has let them down this season, and in the second innings they had reached 174 for 6 with David Leatherdale making 56.

Only Middlesex are faring worse than Gloucestershire's one-day wonders in the longer form of the game but they kept up with Sussex at Southgate, bowling them out for 243 in reply to 227. Left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell returned after a couple of weeks' rest to take 4 for 88, while off-spinner Keith Dutch also picked up 3 for 40. The hosts replied with 98 for 2.

Warwickshire will be looking to return to the top of Division Two while the two sides above them, Glamorgan and Essex, are both out of action and they soon took Northamptonshire's last three wickets at Edgbaston yesterday to dismiss them for 318, another left-arm spinner, Ashley Giles, returning 6 for 118 to further his trenchant claims for a Test call-up.

Dominic Ostler toured Pakistan with England A five years ago but his early promise had not been fulfilled until this season. He continued his rich vein of form with 88 before the off-spinning combination of Jason Brown and Graeme Swann returned figures of 5 for 88 and 4 for 74 respectively to leave the home side all out for 236, 82 in arrears on first innings.

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