Ben Coad claimed a superb 5-33 in 21 overs as Yorkshire pushed for victory over Worcestershire at New Road, though they didn’t have things all their own way on day three of this LV= Insurance County Championship fixture.
Coad, 29, claimed four of his wickets during today’s third day – rain affected once again, with 16 overs lost – as the hosts advanced their first-innings reply to 407 from 46-2 overnight to 242 all out after tea.
They then closed on 22-0 from eight overs in their second innings having been made to follow-on.
Unfortunately, the visitors should have had more second-innings overs to play with before close than nine, but Worcestershire’s 10th-wicket pair Adam Finch (24) and Ben Gibbon shared 63 in 35.3 overs either side of tea to bring about significant frustration. Gibbon posted a career best 41 not out.
With a lead of 165, Yorkshire were still able to enforce the follow-on when they broke the partnership. But Worcestershire sprung a surprise and sent their last-wicket pair out again to open the batting.
New ball seamer Coad was supported by fellow seamers Matthew Fisher and Mark Steketee, who finished with 2-73 and 3-55 respectively.
Coad had taken his first wicket during the second evening and struck twice more across two morning spells. One of them saw him bowl five successive maidens.
Jack Haynes was trapped lbw by Coad for 29 as the score fell to 63-3 after 19, the day’s sixth over.
Coad then switched from the New Road to the Diglis End and had Pakistan Test batter Azhar Ali (22) caught at slip by George Hill with a beauty – one which left the batter having bounced more than expected (71-4 in the 28th).
Australian Steketee then had Ed Pollock caught at second slip by Adam Lyth and Matthew Waite caught in the gully by Fin Bean off an inside-edge which ballooned up off his thigh pad, leaving Worcestershire in trouble at 119-6 in the 38th over.
An hour and 40 minutes rain delay from 12.55pm then followed, cutting 16 overs from the day’s allotted 104.
Yorkshire success continued amidst a polished, ‘give ‘em nothing’ bowling performance, a theory only threatened when Finch and Gibbon later united.
Coad claimed two of the three afternoon wickets to fall, added to one for Fisher.
After Fisher beat Adam Hose for pace and removed his off stump for 38, Coad had Josh Baker caught at cover and Joe Leach (33) caught at third slip by Fin Bean as the score fell to 179-9 after 54 overs.
Rewind to late May, and tail-ender Finch broke Yorkshire’s hearts at this venue with three sixes in the last over off Fisher in a Vitality Blast fixture. At that stage, Yorkshire hadn’t won a game all season.
Here, Finch frustrated Yorkshire in a completely different fashion. Instead of bashing, this was blocking.
He and fellow seamer Gibbon hardly played a shot in anger against seam and spin.
Initially, Yorkshire took the likes of Coad, Fisher and Steketee out of the firing line, likely resting them ahead of enforcing the follow-on and bowling in the second innings.
Matthew Revis and Dan Moriarty were employed.
Late in the afternoon session, Lyth was introduced to bowl alongside fellow spinner as the umpires David Millns and Chris Watts ordered spin from both ends in deteriorating light.
The light improved significantly in the evening, and Coad and Fisher returned with the new ball.
But the Pears pair, having united with 47 overs remaining in the day, continued to chip away at the runs.
As the partnership grew, Gibbon in particular gained confidence and started to play some more shots. He hit five fours in 103 balls before losing Finch caught behind off Steketee in the 90th.
Sending Gibbon and Finch out to bat again at the start of the second innings was a surprise. With nine overs remaining, it could have justifiably been night-watchmen tactics.
However, the way they batted, sharing the highest partnership of the first innings, it’s not inconceivable that the Worcester coaching staff genuinely thought they were the best option to continue thwarting Yorkshire.