WORCESTERSHIRE suffered the familiar promotion hangover as they were shot out for just 84 before lunch on day one of their game against Essex at Chelmsford.
Only two batsmen, Moeen Ali (12) and Joe Leach (39) reached double figures as Daryl Mitchell’s men were dismissed in just 26.2 overs.
New Zealander Jesse Ryder did the damage with the ball as he took 5-24 while the experienced David Masters and Graham Napier chipped in with two wickets each.
The collapse means Worcestershire, who only need six points to claim the Division Two title, received no batting bonus points but could still be crowned champions if they take fewer than six from the game depending on how Hampshire fare against Glamorgan.
Worcestershire would still be crowned champions even if they finished level on points with Hampshire by virtue of having won more games.
The club have already won eight times – including against Essex at home – while the most victories Hampshire can secure is seven.
Before the game against Essex, Mitchell said he was determined to go up as champions.
“To be in the top two from the start until the end of the season has been an incredible effort,” he said.
“To go 12 games unbeaten, winning seven and drawing five, was beyond anything we expected so to be in that position was great.
“There was a brief blip with the defeats to Gloucestershire and Derbyshire but to bounce back the way we did against Surrey was excellent and we thoroughly deserve to go up.
“Now the aim is to go up as champions.”