Joe Clarke's magnificent century saves Worcestershire and keeps England talking going

Nottinghamshire 499 for 9 dec (Nash 139, Libby 88, Patel 76, Wessels 75*) and 249 for 4 dec (Libby 100*, Patel 71, Wessels 57) drew with Worcestershire 287 (Whiteley 76, Gurney 4-97) and 368 for 8 (Clarke 177*)
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Joe Clarke‘s third century of the season heroically salvaged a draw for Worcestershire on the final day of their pink ball County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Clarke batted for over five hours to defy a Notts attack that was missing Stuart Broad, who didn’t return to the field for the last two sessions.

Clarke finished with an unbeaten 177, made from 214 balls with 23 fours. He was supported in partnerships of over an hour by Ben Cox, Ross Whiteley and Ben Twohig, who made a career-best 35.

Luke Fletcher, 3 for 54, and Harry Gurney, with 3 for 91, were the mainstays of the home attack.

The visitors, who had been set the challenge of chasing down a victory target of 462 or, more realistically, batting through a minimum of 113 overs, resumed on 43 without loss at the start of the day.

They added 17 runs from the first two overs but then lost Daryl Mitchell, tickling Gurney down the leg side to Tom Moores for 33.

Martin Guptill fell into Nottinghamshire’s trap, when on 29, punching into the hands of silly mid-off to give young pace bowler Matt Milnes a maiden wicket on the ground.

Moores left the field after being struck by a delivery from Luke Fletcher and handed over the gloves to Riki Wessels, who immediately pouched an edge off Tom Fell, from the bowling of Chris Nash.

The fortunes of the game were never more closely magnified than in the early overs of the second session. Jake Libby, who scored a century in Nottinghamshire’s second innings, experienced the highs and lows of life within the space of a few minutes.

Libby pulled off one of the most outstanding catches you could ever wish to see when he dived horizontally to take Brett D’Oliveira one-handed at backward point, off Gurney.

The same bowler then thought he’d conjured up a repeat when the new arrival, Ben Cox, tamely chipped to the same fielder, who grassed a simple dolly.

Like Nash on the first day, Clarke went into the tea break unbeaten on 99 but reached his 12th career hundred from 157 balls, soon afterwards.

Whiteley’s rear-guard effort – 10 from 60 deliveries – came to an end when he nicked the new ball behind but Twohig, in only his third first-class match, came of age in the testing twilight conditions of the final hour.

When he fell to Fletcher, with four overs remaining, hope briefly returned to home ranks but Charlie Morris flat-batted his way to the end.

Although there was obvious disappointment in the home camp, Nottinghamshire reaped 12 points from the contest and remain second in the Division One table, 22 points behind leaders Surrey, having played a game more.

Worcestershire remain bottom, with their nine points bringing them within 14 points of seventh-placed Yorkshire.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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