Hick's absence causes anger

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The Independent Online
DEREK HODGSON

reports from Worcester

Yorkshire 312-7 v Worcestershire

This was a tale of the unexpected. The pitch was not flat, Graeme Hick did not play, the selector Graham Gooch was not here, Worcestershire bowled two spinners and Michael Bevan scored only 61.

Heartbreak Square's reputation was dented by the simple expedient of using a pitch that had already borne two one-day games. It gave a little variable bounce and slow turn, it seamed, it cheered the bowlers and it made the batsmen think.

Hick was rested after "discussions with the England management". One Worcestershire member said he would demand a rebate on his subscription. Britannic Assurance, the Championship sponsors, might ask why England players cannot be rested during one-day games.

The chairman of selectors, Ray Illingworth, is reported as having asked Gooch to check on candidates in this match but Essex wanted him to play. Darren Gough, on the evidence of the last match, is not bowling well enough to return. The bat is swinging.

Richard Illingworth has the assistance this time of an off-spinner, Vikram Solanki, a finger spinner the selectors will want to keep an eye upon. Bevan, seven fifties and three hundreds in 16 innings, was gathering speed when he was bowled by the tiro Scott Ellis.

Yorkshire began on a still, hazy morning at four runs an over, their first misgiving coming when Michael Vaughan was taken aback by late bounce. David Byas was missed twice, at slip and square leg, before being trapped; Martyn Moxon, 274 not out here in 1994, was going confidently until he reached to drive Moody and was taken at slip.

That left Bevan and Anthony McGrath to rebuild. Bevan was soon accelerating. He swept past 50 with four boundaries in two overs and another three- figure score looked likely. Despite punishment, the 20-year-old Ellis kept the ball up and was rewarded when Bevan essayed another of his powerful off drives and lost his off stump.

McGrath is aptly nicknamed "Gripper" and in application and tenacity he resembles another Yorkshire opener without, fortunately, exciting the same controversy. His patient innings (55 overs) was ended with what might have been a debatable decision before Craig White, who has been bowling well enough to return for England, scored a second fifty of the summer.

Worcestershire were also without both Phil Newport and their long-term casualty Gavin Hayes. Their indefatigable captain, Tom Moody, is the Tykes' target today.

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