County Championship: Leach career-best puts Pears on top against Glamorgan

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales at New Road
Joe Leach celebrates
Joe Leach’s previous best was six for 73 against Warwickshire in 2015
LV= County Championship Division Two, New Road, Worcester (day two):
Worcestershire 271: Barnard 131; Neser 3-40 & 147-6: Libby 49; Neser 3-34
Glamorgan 139 (44.3 overs): Byrom 57; Leach 6-44
Worcestershire (5 pts) lead Glamorgan (3 pts) by 279 runs with four second-innings wickets standing

Joe Leach recorded a career-best bowling performance of 6-44 against Glamorgan to leave Worcestershire favourites for their third Championship Division Two win of the season.

The bustling paceman took the first five wickets to fall as Glamorgan were shot out for 139, despite opener Ed Byrom's 57.

The Pears reached 147-6 second time around to build a lead of 279.

Jake Libby made a patient 49 before Michael Neser took three late wickets.

Just before the start of play, Worcestershire lost rookie batter Taylor Cornall, who had continued his innings after being struck on the helmet. He was withdrawn following further concussion checks and Tom Fell was summoned from second team duty at Edgbaston.

But Leach resumed his domination of the Glamorgan batting in his first over of the day when he got one through the defences of Sam Northeast and had Kiran Carlson edging to slip first ball.

Charlie Morris weighed in by having Billy Root caught behind to leave the visitors 61-6 as they were unable to see off the new ball, with the battling Byrom watching the wreckage at the other end.

He found some belated lower-order application from Tom Cullen (21) and Andrew Salter (15) to remove the possibility of the follow-on with eight wickets down.

Byrom was eventually last out, having faced 131 balls in only his second game as a Championship opener for Glamorgan to show positive signs of filling a problem position.

But Worcestershire, despite losing Ed Pollock early to Michael Hogan, suffered few alarms as they sedately extended their lead in the evening sunshine through the stylish Azhar Ali (42) and the obdurate Libby.

They added 87 before Hogan (2-27) returned to find the edge of Azhar's bat, and Libby fell one short of 50 as James Harris won an lbw verdict.

Neser's final blast was impressive, bowling with real venom to dismiss replacement Fell for 17, Brett D'Oliveira and first innings hero Ed Barnard, leaving the home side thankful for their sizeable first-innings advantage.

Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"It was a bit of a whirlwind on a helpful wicket. I was lucky enough to get on a roll, I found a good length and I'm happy to come off with a career-best and put the guys in a good position.

"Taking wickets in bunches could be down to the length I bowl. It challenges guys early on to defend their stumps and puts them under pressure.

"When you're coming back from an injury lay-off, to break up the spell was really useful and we've been lucky enough to have all the cards fall into place.

"We're in a good position but in modern-day cricket it's hard to tell. The wicket is favourable to the bowlers but we won't be counting our chickens."

Glamorgan opener Eddie Byrom told BBC Sport Wales:

"They're probably ahead of the game at the moment but we've done well to keep ourselves in it.

"The batting display wasn't our best but the bowling has kept us in the game, Michael Neser is bowling phenomenally well backed up by the others.

"There are still a few balls with your name on out there, so it's important we play positively, play our shots and put away the bad ball, and you never know.

"I'm delighted but I'm still learning and trying to get better, to become more consistent, though I'm happy with my performance."

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