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County attack show England how it is done
THE Worcestershire bowlers enjoyed a markedly better day against the touring South Africans than their England counterparts did in the first Test.
A bumper crowd of more than 4,000 — easily New Road’s biggest of the season to date — turned out in glorious sunshine to witness the opening exchanges of the two-day tour match.
With the Proteas winning the toss and electing to bat, many of those in attendance would have been expecting a batting masterclass after the visitors’ dominance of England at the Oval.
South Africa fielded eight of the 11 players who set up that crushing innings-and-12-run victory — a match which saw the home attack manage just two wickets in 189 overs.
However, rookie County paceman Chris Russell matched that feat in just eight overs as he accounted for Jacques Rudolph and Alviro Petersen.
JP Duminy joined the classy stroke-maker AB de Villiers in the middle and they put on 53, although the former contributed just five before being trapped lbw by Richard Jones.
Albie Morkel (50) and de Villiers then made serene progress, taking South Africa past 150, but the returning Russell made the breakthrough by beating Morkel’s drive and hitting the stumps.
Debutant Joe Leach also impressed with a miserly spell, picking up the prize wicket of de Villiers into the bargain – well held low down at cover by Jimmy Cameron.
Spinners Moeen Ali and Shaaiq Choudhry then reduced the visitors to 237-9, which prompted the declaration.
The express pace of Dale Steyn accounted for skipper Daryl Mitchell first ball when Robin Peterson held a sensational diving catch at third slip and the duo teamed up again to account for Moeen two overs later.
Opener Matt Pardoe (40 not out) and Cameron rebuilt, but the latter nicked Morne Morkel to brother Albie at first slip with the score on 47, before Worcestershire closed the day on 70-3.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire resume their Clydesdale Bank40 Group ‘A’ campaign with a visit from bottom-of-the-table Essex on Sunday (1.45pm).
After a promising start to the 40-over competition, the Royals have struggled for form recently, losing their last four outings.