YOUNG Pears batsman Josh Dell received his county cap from Worcestershire chief Matt Rawnsley as the Pears returned to County Championship action.
The 20-year-old Tenbury Wells-born player was the 516th player to represent the county in first class cricket when he took to the field against Durham at New Road.
And the young batsman made the most of his opportunity with a fine 61 in Worcestershire’s first innings of 390 all out.
Dell earned his opportunity after impressing in pre and early season and skipper Joe Leach witnessed at first hand a superb unbeaten century from Dell when he carried his bat for the Seconds in the Championship clash with Lancashire at Northern CC two weeks ago.
First team coach Alex Gidman said: “I’m really pleased for Josh. He has worked extremely hard and has done what we asked him to do in the second team.
“He did very well pre-season and was so close to playing against Leicestershire. He got a fantastic hundred versus Lancashire Seconds and himself and George Rhodes have been banging on the door for some time.
“With Callum Ferguson not available because of a family commitment, it has opened up an opportunity for Josh.”
Skipper Joe Leach marked his return from a stress fracture of his back 11 months ago with two early wickets as the all-rounder took to the field for the first time this summer.
He has gradually built up his fitness in recent weeks, playing club cricket for Shrewsbury and Worcestershire Seconds.
Leach is back for the first time since suffering the injury in a Royal London One-Day Cup match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Gidman said: “Joe’s comeback has been managed very carefully and Ben Davies (Head Of Sports Science and Medicine) and Ross Dewar (Strengthening and Conditioning Coach) have done a terrific job.
“Joe is raring to go and I look forward to him leading and getting back amongst it.”
The Pears chief is looking for Worcestershire to ‘pick up where we left off’ in Championship cricket. The county gained a convincing victory over Leicestershire at the Fischer County Ground with a maximum haul of 24 points in their only four-day fixture to date.
Now they will focus fully on red-ball cricket for the two months with four of the next five Championship fixtures at home against Durham, Middlesex, Lancashire and Sussex.
There is a block of eight Championship matches before the Vitality Blast gets under way in mid-July.