WORCESTERSHIRE CCC were edged out by Somerset CCC in their bid to reach the Bob Willis Trophy final, but Head Coach Alex Gidman says they can take great heart from their performances in the competition after two challenging seasons of red-ball cricket.
The County went down by 60 runs at Blackfinch New Road after being set a 245 target on a wicket which offered encouragement to the seamers from start to finish.
Ben Cox top-scored with 32 and there were useful contributions from Jack Haynes (30), Brett D’Oliveira (28) and Tom Fell (20) before Worcestershire were dismissed for 184 in 71.2 overs.
Ultimately a superb century from Somerset opener Tom Lammonby in a low scoring game proved to be a significant difference between the sides.
But Worcestershire won two and drew the other two in their opening four games and to be in contention themselves for a Lord’s final spot right to the last day of the group stages represents a healthy progression in that format of the game.
It is a reward for the greater emphasis placed on improving at four-day cricket by Gidman and the coaching team during the past 12 months.
Worcestershire have also provided the leading run-scorer in the competition in Jake Libby with 498 runs in instantly justifying his recruitment from Nottinghamshire on a three-year contract.
Gidman said: “If we look at the whole competition, once the emotion has gone out of today, I think we can look back and say we’ve made significant strides.
“This group started working on this red ball cricket last November and have put so much effort into it, and I’m pleased for the players that the stuff they have worked on has come through in terms of performances.
“Having said that, we’ve met a competition in this game that are better than us and we need to use that as motivation to try and get to the levels Somerset have set in this competition and the last few years.
“They are an outstanding team, the better team won this fixture, but overall I’m pleased we’ve done well in this competition and gone toe to toe with one of the best teams in the country, and some learning should put us in good stead for the next chapter of this group’s Championship (red ball) cricket.
“Tom Lammonby’s hundred was right up there with first-class hundreds I’ve seen. Batting was tricky throughout the whole game, and both bowling groups bowled very well.
“For a young man to stand up and play such an important innings, absolute credit to him and it was an outstanding innings and probably the difference in the game.”
Gidman added: “The most significant difference our team hasn’t come across in the last few years is that relentless four pace attack.
“In the Second Division and in this competition there has generally been, with respect, two very good seamers and then one good seamer and then either a young guy or less experienced guy.
“But this has been an excellent learning experience for some of our batsmen to come up against a team that is relentless in their seam bowling department for the whole innings.
“It is exciting because we need to go away and learn what it takes to score good runs, big hundreds, against as close to an international attack as we could probably get in county cricket at the moment.
“That attack had three international bowlers in it. A great challenge for us, we came up short, but we will be using it both as coaches and players as fuel to try and get better again.”
Worcestershire resumed in gloomy light and, following a short interruption, England paceman Lewis Gregory trapped Tom Fell (20) after he looked to work a delivery to leg.
Jack Haynes (30) offered no shot against Josh Davey and was leg before for 30 with the total 96-4 in the 44th over.
Riki Wessels (9) brought the 100 up with a lofted off-drive for four off Jack Brooks but pulled Davey to Eddie Byrom at mid-wicket.
Brett D’Oliveira played fluently for his 28 before he went lbw to the last ball before lunch after Craig Overton returned to the attack.
Skipper Joe Leach and Cox counter-attacked effectively in adding 44 before the former on 17 became the fourth lbw victim of the day – this time to Jack Brooks.
Dillon Pennington (4) departed in the same manner, and the game was wrapped up when Cox (32) was caught behind off Davey.