'Disappointed' Ed Barnes looks to build on three-for as Leicestershire chase Worcestershire's commanding lead

By Jon Culley
Leicestershire's Ed Barnes. Photo: Getty ImagesLeicestershire's Ed Barnes. Photo: Getty Images
Leicestershire's Ed Barnes. Photo: Getty Images

Leicestershire’s Ed Barnes had to concede Brett D’Oliveira 'batted really well' after the Worcestershire skipper put his side in a strong position after two days of their opening LV= County Championship match.

“It was a day that ebbed and flowed really," said Barnes, who took three wickets.

"There was an opportunity to bowl them out for under 200 but a couple of partnerships really hurt us and D’Oliveira batted really well, to his credit on a pitch that we felt flattened out a bit as the day went on.

"He played strong cricket shots, he kept out our good balls and put the bad ones away.

“(Joe) Leach came at us really hard and we perhaps didn’t react as quickly as we should but we will learn from that.

“Myself I was disappointed to go for as many runs as I did and I felt I was a bit loose at times but good to start with a three-for and I’ll hope to build on that,

“Beuran (Hendricks) was unlucky not to pick up some wickets.

"He beat the bat numerous times from over and round the wicket so he is going to be a good addition for us - and he only arrived in the country last week. He is still adapting himself but we’re already learning from him.”

An unbeaten century by D’Oliveira marked his first match as club captain for Worcestershire.

The 30-year-old all-rounder, handed the job after Leach stepped down at the end of last season, compiled a fine, measured innings to finish on 118 not out as the visitors to the Uptonsteel County Ground posted a first-innings total of 348.

At the close, Leicestershire were 42 for three in reply, having been six for three after Leach and Charlie Morris took early wickets with the new ball.

D’Oliveira had survived a difficult chance at third slip on three on the first evening but otherwise played superbly, backed up by half-centuries from Leach (70) and Ed Barnard (57).

His innings spanned almost six hours.

He is the first member of a distinguished cricketing dynasty to be officially appointed captain, an honour bestowed on neither his grandfather, the celebrated England batsman and first-team coach Basil, nor his late father, the all-rounder and former academy director Damian.

He led the side when Leach was injured during the 2018 season and was skipper in place of Moeen Ali when Worcestershire Rapids won the Vitality Blast the same season and finished as runners-up the following year.

But he described being given the role in his own name as the fulfilment of a boyhood dream and looked to the heavens in an emotional celebration on reaching his hundred, the ninth of his career in first-class matches.

It came after he had punished a short, wide ball from the South African pace bowler Hendricks with the 14th of his 16 fours, having also lofted a six off left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson.

After Worcestershire resumed at 118 for four following a rain-disrupted opening day, D’Oliveira played the anchor role in a stand of 94 with Barnard, who struck nine fours in a 65-ball half-century before falling leg before to Ed Barnes, who followed up quickly by having Ben Cox caught behind.

At 155 for six, Worcestershire’s innings looked vulnerable, but Leach found the offside boundary off his third ball and the alliance of captain and former captain prospered for 31 overs either side of lunch, adding 127.

Leach passed fifty with his ninth boundary off 71 balls but when he tried to sweep Ackermann to the long boundary on the Milligan Road side he miscued his stroke and Barnes, at deep square leg, ran forward to take the catch.

Barnes had Josh Baker leg before to join Wright in taking three wickets in the innings before Ben Mike wrapped up by bowling Morris middle stump and having Dillon Pennington caught behind.

Leicestershire made a calamitous start to their reply, left rocking at six for three with Sam Evans bowled by Leach not offering a stroke and both George Rhodes and Hassan Azad falling to spectacular catches.

Wicketkeeper Cox completed the first, one-handed diving to his right, on the rebound, after Barnard had failed to hold an edge by Rhodes off Morris to third slip, and Baker the second, a low grab to his left at fourth slip, as Azad edged Leach.

Lewis Hill survived a chance to second slip off Morris on 15 before rain ended an extended day 20.4 overs early.