Worcestershire 389 (D’Oliveira 103, Kashif Ali 93, Allison 75) and 18 for 2 lead Yorkshire 262 for 6 dec (Hill 52, Revis 51*, Bess 48*) by 145 runs
Yorkshire declared their first-innings reply to Worcestershire’s 389 with a deficit of 127 at tea on day three in a bid to force a season-ending LV= Insurance County Championship victory.
Yorkshire, bottom of Division Two and with the chance to leapfrog Gloucestershire directly above them, advanced from an overnight 24 without loss to 262 for 6.
They allowed Shan Masood to attack already-promoted Worcestershire and go in search of win number three of 2023, with early success with the ball forthcoming.
Worcestershire lost a wicket with the first ball of their reply before closing on 18 for 2 from seven overs of their reply. They lead by 145, with 32 overs lost to bad light. There was no play beyond 4.25pm, with 44 overs lost in all.
Worcestershire impressed with the ball for the majority of a day which started 45 minutes late at 11.15am due to a wet outfield.
There was no sign of, ‘We’ve got promotion, job done’, and Leach was at the heart of their good work.
Here is a 32-year-old who started his first-class career with Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities, who play their home games a couple of miles away from Headingley at Weetwood.
In April 2012, Leach made his second career appearance against Yorkshire at Headingley. He played that game as a top-order batter and third-change seamer.
Things have changed significantly for the better since his Uni days.
His 450th wicket was that of Hill, trapped lbw pushing forwards to the ball after reaching a mid-afternoon fifty off 77 balls, leaving Yorkshire 177 for 6.
Worcestershire may have been fortunate to make the morning breakthrough – Adam Lyth’s reaction certainly suggested so when he was given out caught behind off Leach for 11 early in the day’s fourth over, leaving the score at 32 for 1. With the ball seemingly kicking up out of the foot marks into the gloves of Gareth Roderick, there was very little enthusiasm in Leach’s appeal.
But it was given out, and Lyth had to go, for now falling just short of 1,000 Championship runs for the season. His young opening partner Fin Bean is also still waiting to reach the same milestone. They are both inside 35 runs from the mark.
Bean was bowled through the gate for 31 by left-arm quick Ben Gibbon – potentially off a feather of an inside-edge – and when the same bowler had Shan Masood caught at second slip on the drive for 19, Yorkshire were 67 for 3 in the 18th over.
Further success came before lunch as Dillon Pennington bowled James Wharton with a beauty for eight – 92 for 4.
Hill and Jonny Tattersall steadied somewhat amid a 42-run stand into the early stages of the afternoon, only for the latter to be bowled by Pennington as he played across one angled into him, leaving the score at 135 for 5 after 36 overs.
Hill played positively en-route to his third half-century in the last four games, only to fall with Yorkshire still 63 away from avoiding the follow-on with four wickets in hand.
Bess led the counter-attack with eight fours in his 50-ball 48, while Revis reached his fifty off 65 balls and hit three successive boundaries off Gibbon to race through the forties.
A draw may actually be enough for Yorkshire to avoid finishing bottom should Gloucestershire, on the back foot against Sussex, lose at Hove. But they have opted to go for broke.
Ben Coad had Roderick caught at mid-off with the first ball of the innings before Azhar Ali edged Matt Milnes to Lyth at second slip in the next over, leaving Worcestershire at nine for two and 136 in front.
Only five more overs were possible due to the light, curtailing a fascinating day. Another could be in store tomorrow, with a contrived finish now possible.