Worcestershire 271 & 232 Gloucestershire 276 & 169: Mason's devilry completes Worcestershire recovery

A career-best 8 for 45 by Matt Mason swept Worcestershire to victory over Gloucestershire at New Road yesterday and lifted them to second in the Second Division of the County Championship.

The margin of Worcestershire's fourth consecutive victory was surprisingly clear-cut after an epic recovery from 47 for 6 in their second innings. Ben Smith's century eventually enabled them to set a testing target of 228 and Gloucestershire folded to 169 all out in difficult batting conditions.

The visitors may have been marginal favourites when starting the last day at 68 for 1. But Zaheer Khan inflicted a crucial blow when his first ball, a swinging yorker, trapped Phil Weston. Mason then produced a wicked lifter to have Kadeer Ali caught behind.

The big Australian fast-medium bowler, who became qualified for England this season, took 4 for 23 in a protracted first spell of 11.1 overs from the Diglis End and finished the job by taking 4 for 6 in 20 balls after lunch.

Defeat could be a terminal blow to Gloucestershire's own promotion hopes after their recent defeat to Essex.

Unreliable bounce when the ball was new had been a problem all match and on the last day its effect was more pronounced and longer lasting. Once Mason had hit the spot, at least one delivery seemed to misbehave in every over.

Hamish Marshall was lbw to a ball which cut back and Ian Harvey was fifth man out, edging low to third slip, with Gloucestershire still 112 runs short of their objective.

Alex Gidman became Mason's fourth victim of the morning with a leading edge to mid-on and although Worcestershire's support bowling looked unthreatening, they were able to go back to their match-winner in the afternoon.

Martyn Ball was helpless when a shooter ripped out his middle and off stumps, and Jon Lewis was bowled second ball. Mason then struck the final blows to have Steve Kirby edging a catch to Lou Vincent, moving in from third slip, and Carl Greenidge taken by the wicketkeeper Steve Davies.

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