Clarke impresses to guide Worcestershire

Joe Clarke confirmed his status as one of the game’s most exiting young batsmen with a century on the second day of Worcestershire’s Specsavers County Championship Division Two game against Gloucestershire in Bristol.

The 19-year-old hit an unbeaten 103 and shared an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership with wicketkeeper Ben Cox (59no) as Worcestershire finished the day trailing their hosts by 83 on a score on 297-5.

Having resumed on 336-5, Gloucestershire lost their way in the morning session as Worcestershire clawed their way back into the contest.

Things started poorly for the hosts when Kieran Noema-Barnett fell to the third ball of the day without adding to his overnight score when he edged Jack Shantry to Ross Whiteley in the slips.

Shantry and Matt Henry bowled with real purpose on a wicket that provided the seamers with genuine encouragement.

Jack Taylor, Liam Norwell, day-one centurion Hamish Marshall and David Payne all followed Noema-Barnett back to the pavilion as Gloucestershire lost their last five wickets for 44. Shantry was the pick of the Worcestershire bowlers with 4-89, while Henry weighed in with figures of 3-89.

In reply to Gloucestershire’s 380, Worcestershire made a poor start of their own when they lost captain Daryl Mitchell to the first ball of the innings, lbw to Payne.

However, they recovered their poise in the 40 minutes before lunch, courtesy of Moeen Ali and Brett D’Oliveira. Both batsmen played with due care and attention as the visitors reached 40 for one at the interval.

If the morning session belonged to Worcestershire, the second session was very much Gloucestershire’s as the visitors slumped from 120-1 to 131-4 inside four overs.

Moeen and D’Oliveira, who were both dropped, added 120 for the second wicket before the former was caught behind by Gareth Roderick off the bowling off on-loan seamer Josh Shaw.

The England batsman struck 10 boundaries in reaching his half century was eventually dismissed for 74 when attempting to cut Shaw through square.

Noema-Barnett trapped D’Oliveira lbw for 40 and shortly after Tom Kohler-Cadmore was bowled by the impressive Shaw without scoring.

After tea, the game swung back in Worcestershire’s favour, courtesy of an impressive innings from Clarke.

Having pushed his way to 37 not out at the tea break, the Shrewsbury-born batsman passed 50 off 53 balls and joined forces with Ben Cox to frustrate Gloucestershire’s tiring attack.

Clarke advanced to his second first-class century of the season off 124 balls with 13 fours and Cox hit 10 boundaries from 110 deliveries.

Source: ECB

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