Worcestershire 118 for 4 (Wright 3-33) vs Leicestershire
Veteran Leicestershire seamer Chris Wright took 3 for 33 as Worcestershire closed on 118 for four after a rain-affected opening day of the LV= County Championship season at the Uptonsteel County Ground in Leicester.
The first two scheduled sessions were lost to a series of squally showers before the Division Two rivals squeezed in 26 overs either side of another stoppage.
After opting to bat first on what looked like a good batting surface, Worcestershire slipped to 32 for 3, with former Warwickshire batsman Ed Pollock and Pakistan Test No. 3 Azhar Ali both out for single-figure scores on debut.
They stumbled further to 45 for 4 before Brett D’Oliveira and Ed Barnard fought back in an unbroken stand of 73, although both were dropped in the slips.
Pollock, who played in Worcestershire’s age group sides up to 17, has returned to New Road in the hope of forging a red-ball career after playing only white-ball cricket for Warwickshire. He guided 36-year-old Wright’s opening ball of the innings to third man for four to give himself an immediate confidence boost but was bowled by an inswinger in Wright’s next over, shaping to leave and adjusting too late.
Azhar, starting a fourth spell in county cricket after three stints with Somerset, would doubtless have liked a repeat of his Championship debut four years ago, when he made a century against Worcestershire. Instead, after picking up two singles, he aborted another that never looked realistic and was run out off his own bowling by South African left-armer Beuran Hendricks, making his Leicestershire debut.
Jack Haynes looked unlucky to be given out leg before against Wright before another squall forced the players off. It was a chance for Worcestershire to reset but after the restart they lost another wicket – a third for Wright – as opener Jake Libby flashed at one outside off stump to be caught at third slip for 27.
In tricky conditions made no easier by a strong crosswind, D’Oliveira was fortunate to survive on three as George Rhodes spilled a chance at third slip that was travelling but at a catchable height. Barnard edged along the ground between third and fourth slips in the same over, much to Wright’s frustration.
Both batters then unveiled some nice shots as the opening bowlers began to tire but Barnard then had some luck after Ed Barnes replaced Wright at the Pavilion End, escaping on 21 as Hassan Azad put down a more straightforward catching opportunity at first slip.