The #youfours bandwagon had started to lose momentum after narrow defeats to UCB 1s and Nottingham Trent 3s. Yet, with two games remaining, there was hope that Sitampalam’s men could finish the season with a flourish. Worcester 3s were the visitors on Monday, themselves still pushing for promotion to the heady-heights of Midlands Division 3A. They were greeted by gloomy clouds and a BBC weather report that suggested that the day would be a washout. Stand-in skipper Jack Jewson, the umpires and the Worcester captain unanimously decided on a 30 over game to therefore be played. Jewson won the toss and elected to field.
A few fortuitous edges to the boundary coupled with some good stroke play saw Worcester get off to a strong start. However, they were soon pegged back – Andy Davis and Rob Stileman collecting 3 wickets between them. Jewson smelt blood and thus turned to his international strike bowler, Cameron Beauclerk. Four slips and a gulley were put in place as Beauclerk consistently probed away at the outside edge. Alas, Jewson’s inspired captaincy failed to bear fruit as Jono Cook spilled an admittedly tough chance at third slip. Nevertheless, Worcester continued to be bogged down by the tight 4s bowling. Alay Vora followed up Andy Davis’ excellent opening spell with some accurate left arm medium pace and Brad Fern’s leg spin put Worcester under even more pressure. With 25 overs having gone the heavens opened and Worcester were on an underwhelming 93-5. However, the final five overs after the rain delay were costly for the 4s. A brutal combination of impressive batting, mediocre bowling, poor fielding and a very small leg side boundary saw Worcester reach 159-5 at the end of their allotted 30 overs; Stileman having taken the majority of the punishment.
Despite Worcester’s late acceleration the target of 160 to win was still a very gettable one and thus optimism still remained within the camp. This was instantly checked as Jono Cook fell to the first ball of the innings. However, it was not long before Shah and Barclay began to look settled at the crease – Barclay impressing with a nonchalant six off the back foot over extra cover. This encouraging start was short lived as Barclay fell for a breezy 21. Paras Shah soon followed and the 4s found themselves under significant pressure. Yet, the chase was still more than feasible and soon Gujar and Mahir Youssuf were ticking along at a good rate. Then disaster struck as Mahir and Gujar both fell for 21 – evidently a cursed number outside circle as well. From here the chase collapsed and the 4s finished 120 all out. Beauclerk offering the only meaningful resistance with a hard fought 21 (again!).
Credit must go to two of Worcester’s players. Firstly, their number 6 for his (63*), without him their total would have been significantly less imposing. Secondly, their diamond-studded second change bowler who cleaned up our tail with a series of well-directed yorkers. He finished with impressive figures of 5-9 from 5 overs. Ultimately it was another disappointing defeat for the 4s and it finally confirmed that the #youfours promotion dream would have to be put on hold for another year. However, there still remained one final fixture vs Staffordshire 1s which was to be played the very next day, and what a cracker that turned out to be…