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Richardson spearheads County's recovery
ALAN Richardson goes into the penultimate day of the 2013 LV= County Championship season firmly in the hunt to finish the campaign as the country’s leading wicket-taker for the second time in three years.
The 38-year-old seamer’s haul of 76 Division One scalps in 2011 was unmatched throughout the land and saw him named as one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year.
England discard Graham Onions holds a narrow lead this term after picking up 3-103 against Sussex to move up to 69 for the season.
However, Richardson is in hot pursuit after claiming yet another five-wicket haul as he briefly put Northants’ promotion party on ice at New Road yesterday.
The evergreen Worcestershire bowler claimed 5-70 to move to 68 victims for the season, putting him ahead of fellow challengers for the top bowler accolade, Sussex’s former Worcester Aussie Steve Magoffin, Middlesex’s Tim Murtagh, Glamorgan’s Michael Hogan and Lancashire’s Kyle Hogg.
Despite Richardson’s efforts, Northants were able to celebrate promotion to the top-flight of the County Championship late on day two at New Road.
They were dismissed for 202 in reply to Worcestershire’s 163 all out, which left them 48 runs short of the extra batting point that would have secured their elevation.
Regardless, Essex were unable to rack up the maximum batting points required to keep their slim promotion hopes alive, so when they were dismissed for 207 by Hampshire the celebrations could begin for the Wantage Road outfit.
As far as the contest with Worcestershire is concerned, the hosts went into today holding a lead of 116 with seven wickets in hand.
Northants resumed on 103-4, but Richardson’s haul, alongside a tidy spell of 3-30 from 15.2 overs from off-spinner Moeen Ali, ensured they were shot out for 202, a first innings lead of just 39.
After Richardson had accounted for former New Road all-rounder Andrew Hall, Matt Spriegel and Steven Crook in his 14-over spell, Rob Keogh provided the main resistance with a patient half-century.
County openers Daryl Mitchell and Matt Pardoe were watchful in erasing the deficit and the total had reached 77 before the skipper (47) was trapped lbw by James Middlebrook.
Pardoe was typically stoic, taking 147 balls over his 38 but, after he had put on 40 with Moeen, he edged a Spriegel delivery to wicketkeeper David Murphy.
Thilan Samaraweera struck four attractive boundaries in his 16-ball 17, before he was bowled by a Mohammad Azharullah delivery that kept low.
Moeen (40 not out) was in fluent form once again and, with Tom Fell (9no), will be looking to bat Worcestershire into a position of strength today.
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