The Steelbacks travelled to New Road on Friday as the only undefeated side in the North Division, with only the rain preventing any play at Derby the night before, ruining their 100% record.
Expecting the pitch to be conducive to spin, David Ripley decided to play an extra spinner in James Middlebrook rather than the pace of Maurice Chambers. Skipper Kype Coetzer won the toss and elected to bat first, knowing his two openers Richard Levi and David Willey would be an eyeing up the rather short boundary in front of the Graeme Hick Pavilion.
As per usual, Messrs Levi and Willey got the Steelbacks off to a great start, hitting some very big sixes, as the pair put on 56 in under 6 overs. Willey was the first man to go, as he was caught off Jack Shantry for an entertaining 34 from 18 balls, which included four sixes. After the first wicket, Worcestershire started to get back into the game, as they tied the Steelbacks batsmen down. Levi fell in the 9th over, as he was caught on the boundary by Russell off Ali for 27, with the score on 76/2.
After Levi went, Worcestershire really got on top, as the Steelbacks struggled to score whilst wickets fell at regular intervals. Thanks to a big final over, the Steelbacks managed to finish on 134/7, knowing they would need a great performance with the ball to defend their total.
England all-rounder Moeen Ali and Richard Oliver opened the batting for Worcestershire, and much like the Steelbacks, got off to a quick start finding the boundary with ease. Unfortunately for the Steelbacks, Worcestershire’s opening partnership proved tough to break-up, as the pair put on 87 in 8 overs, before Ali was caught off White for 41.
Ali’s fellow opener Oliver continued the Worcestershire charge though, as he showed fine controlled hitting in reaching his half century. However, Worcestershire had a slight wobble as several of Oliver’s partners fell cheaply. Oliver was eventually bowled by Crook for an excellent 77, which came off 43 balls. However it was too little, too late for the Steelbacks, as in the next over Worcestershire hit the winning runs, as they won by 5 wickets.
The Steelbacks will be hoping this defeat is just a blip in their title defence. Next up for the champions will be Yorkshire Vikings here at the County Ground on Friday 13th June. To purchase tickets, please click here.