BY the time the Glamorgan game finished, Worcestershire had played very few days of first class cricket at New Road this year.

This by the beginning of June and after six County Championship matches.

Mind you, the way wickets have fallen in their most recent game, perhaps it's no bad thing.

This year's solitary batting bonus point might not have been achieved with more home cricket!

With the points for a win down to 12, bonus points are not to be sniffed at, though, as they might once have been.

The Glamorgan game looks promising as I write. I dare say no more.

A more familiar looking bowling attack has brought more control and greater success, allowing Chris Liptrot to bowl without the pressure of knowing that he has to take wickets in order for the team to succeed.

Alamgir Sheriyar, meanwhile, is the country's leading wicket-taker.

Having written last week of Richard Illingworth's devotion to the night-watchman's job, it was ironic to then find Liptrot taking up the role and with such success that he top-scored in the second innings at Edgbaston.

It was another defeat, but one which shoed a lot of good qualities, with the game ultimately being lost with just nine minutes playing time remaining.

Perhaps the benefit of this performance came when the third National League game produced a win in the daunting arena of Old Trafford.

It's been something of a triumph for the 'vets' this last week.

Stuart Lampitt might not strictly qualify, but his return alongside Phil Newport has brought control back to the bowling, while Bill Athey did his bit for the batting at Old Trafford.

Raising the number of Yorkies to four, he can be proud of his steadying contribution in an emphatic win which was based on a decisive spell of spin bowling from Matt Rawnsley. Tykes have something of a history of comebacks. Close, at 42, against the West Indies and Illingworth (Ray that is), at 50, leading Yorkshire to Sunday League triumph spring to mind.

I don't suppose Bill will want to repeat the performance, but he was ever one to apply himself and the lesson should not have been lost on his squad.

Meanwhile, Rawnsley's success along with Richard Illingworth hints at more profitable times ahead when the pitches dry out.

Spinners don't learn their trade overnight, and there are precious few young ones around, so it's good to see the club continuing to keep faith with 'Scrawny.'

His arm's a bit low, but he spins it and he has a character which can take the knocks and the good times alike.

Worcestershire are now away at Horsham for the next four days and then on Sunday at Tunbridge Wells.

Still, at least we can watch the World Cup till cricket returns to Worcester.

And what a feast it is turning into and what a shop window for prospective overseas players.

I wonder if Worcestershire might consider adding Shoaib Akhtar to their short list?

Tuesday, June 1, 1999.