Worcestershire left with little solace as they are condemned to Division Three status
Worcestershire 447 for 9 dec (Mitchell 113, Barnard 112*, Haynes 65) drew with Warwickshire 395 (Malan 141, Sibley 80, Rhodes 60, Sodhi 6-89) and 215 for 2 dec (Yates 88, Malan 77*, Sibley 41)
Yates, a 21-year-old student with another year of university in front of him, made 88 to ensure Warwickshire achieved the draw they required to book their place in the top six when Championship cricket resumes on August 30.
Malan, who came into this match averaging 15.12 in his first five Championship matches, finished unbeaten on 77 to add to his first-innings century.
But it is, perhaps, Yates’ development which has been most pleasing. Tested here by the footmarks outside the left-hander’s off-stump, he again demonstrated the temperament and technique to suggest he could play at a higher level. He played and missed a couple of times and survived a tough caught-and-bowled chance to Ish Sodhi on 30 but he is his club’s leading run-scorer in the competition and went within 12 of being the first man in the land to score four Championship centuries this season.
His cricketing education will continue next week when he is named in a County Select XI to take on India in a three-day warm-up match alongside county colleague Will Rhodes. Liam Norwell and Craig Miles are reserves.
The result sustains a grim run of form for Worcestershire in Championship cricket. Having been relegated at the end of 2018, they finished second from bottom of Division Two in 2019 (only Leicestershire were below them) and will now be in Division Three when the Championship resumes.
There will, no doubt, be questions asked of a squad which includes several senior players – not least Riki Wessels, Daryl Mitchell and Ross Whiteley – who are out of contract at the end of the season.
But Worcestershire may be better served looking at their pitches. This one, like so many at the ground, had little life and resulted in just 21 wickets falling across the four days. It’s tough to prepare great wickets on a ground which spends several weeks under water each winter – especially this year, when Spring was so cold – but there really isn’t much encouragement out there for the talented young bowlers (Adam Finch, Dillion Pennington and Josh Tongue et al) at the club. In this side, only Sodhi – who only played one game – had a bowling average below 44 in the Championship season.
“It was pretty similar to a couple of wickets we’ve played on here this season,” Joe Leach, the Worcestershire captain, said afterwards. “It was very flat and pretty brutal for us bowlers. It wasn’t conducive to taking 20 wickets. I think I could have declared a week ago and they’d still be batting.
“It’s been a disappointing campaign. I don’t feel we’ve been a million miles away and I do feel we’re making progress. But ultimately the table doesn’t lie.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo