Moody makes Smith suffer

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire 462

Worcestershire 177 & 325-9

TIME but not the weather was on Warwickshire's side yesterday as they bowled methodically rather than brilliantly in search of their 11th victory in defence of their County Championship title. Worcestershire's woeful batting on Friday had left them 269 runs in arrears overnight, with nine second-innings wickets in hand.

It looked as if Warwickshire would extend to three their sequence of three-day wins with which they have bounced back from defeat by challengers Northamptonshire at the start of August. Instead the bad light that kept the fast bowlers on a leash either side of tea kept the players off the field for an hour and frustrated Warwickshire's hopes of having the Bank Holiday off.

At the outset, yesterday, their priority was to see the back of Tim Curtis who had batted throughout the first innings for almost four and a half hours. There was little in the pitch to worry either Curtis or the night- watchman, Stuart Lampitt, and on a fresh morning they batted untroubled for 17 overs before the introduction of Neil Smith. With his first ball the off-spinner had Curtis caught at forward short leg by Wasim Khan and seven balls later Chris Tolley went the same way.

An on-driven four off Smith and a hooked six off Tim Munton set Tom Moody on his way to 50 off 52 balls, though turned-down appeals for lbw off a Munton yorker and for caught-and-bowled by Smith in successive overs had the Warwickshire supporters spluttering. Lampitt's subsequent leg before was a consolation for Munton, but Smith had to suffer being swept repeatedly by Moody, as well as being driven by him for six over long off.

With David Leatherdale batting neatly, occasionally stylishly, Worcestershire's fifth wicket added 96 before Allan Donald rearranged Leatherdale's stumps with a fast in-swinger. When Dermot Reeve's smart catch at slip off Smith sent back young Vikram Solanki, and Smith spun one sharply past Moody's defences, it looked as if the game could be over by tea.

Instead, Steve Rhodes and Phil Newport put on 66 until Newport, having earlier hit Smith straight for six, swotted him to midwicket on the stroke of tea and his half-century. This gave Smith his fifth wicket. On the resumption, however, Rhodes moved resolutely past 50 and made sure that Warwickshire have to bat again for victory.