22nd Jan, 2019

Clarke: Great to grind out first ton of season

Rob George 12th May, 2018

PEARS century-maker Joe Clarke admitted he was determined to take advantage of a batsman-friendly pitch at The Oval after the challenges posed by the early season conditions.

The England Lions batsman scored a superb 157 – his 10th century in what is only his 51st first class match – as the county ended a run of three straight defeats with a creditable draw with Surrey on Bank Holiday Monday.

Worcestershire, who had reached 526 all out in their first innings to lead by 92 before Surrey declared on 173-3 in their second innings, remain bottom of the County Championship Division One, but are now eight points behind Lancashire.

Clarke had scored 88 runs from his six previous innings this season when seam bowling has ruled the roost.

But the 21-year-old was rarely troubled as he featured in stands of 117 with Tom Fell (88), 80 with Travis Head (50) and 124 with Ed Barnard (66). When Clarke was leg-before to tall fast bowler Conor McKerr 20 minutes before the close, he had faced 280 balls and struck 18 fours in his near six-hour knock.

Clarke said: “The guys at the top of the order started things off really well for us, Mitch [Daryl Mitchell] and Felly, and I could just sort of carry on that momentum and it was nice to get a good pitch here.

“When I got in I didn’t want to give it away. I was just the lucky one who cashed in and got a big score. The hundred was one of my least thrilling ones that I’ve scored so far. I just tried to grind it out in the same as Rory [Burns] who was really patient and that was my plan for the majority of the day.

“Once I got to a hundred it was a little bit more free-scoring and I got used to the wicket a bit more.

“It’s been a tough start for a lot of batters around the circuit really.

“I tried to keep remembering all the green wickets we have been playing on in the last few weeks and so tried to make the most of this one. I spoke to Daryl Mitchell about it.

“He’s played a lot of cricket and he says it has been one of the toughest starts to the season for batsmen in terms of wickets since he started his career.

“That shows what sort of wickets we have been playing on.”


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