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Brett D’Oliveira century has Worcestershire sitting pretty on fine day at New Road

Worcestershire 338 for 5 (D’Oliveira 106*, Pollock 77, Barnard 75) vs Sussex

Brett D’Oliveira struck his second century in two games since becoming Worcestershire club captain on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship match with injury-hit Sussex at New Road.

The 30-year-old followed up his unbeaten 134 against Leicestershire at the Uptonsteel County Ground with another superb knock of 106 not out to steer his side to 338 for 5 by the close.

Opener Ed Pollock‘s rapid 77 got the innings off to a flying start and then D’Oliveira and Ed Barnard, who made 75, pressed home the advantage during a fifth-wicket partnership of 166.

Sussex stuck to their task on a wicket which was not straightforward for batting with some movement all day. But they were left to regret Tom Alsop at first slip dropping D’Oliveira on 19 off Henry Crocombe.

Worcestershire ended the day in a position of strength and looking to press on for maximum batting points in the morning.

D’Oliveira took over as skipper from Joe Leach this summer and is thriving on the extra responsibility. He is the first member of his famous cricketing family to be Worcestershire’s official captain, a feat not achieved by grandfather Basil or father Damian.

D’Oliveira has been described as the “heartbeat” of the team by head coach Alex Gidman and was told to make no changes to his approach after taking on the leadership role.

Sussex were decimated by injuries and handed a debut to all-rounder, Grant Stewart, and pace bowler, George Burrows.

Stewart, 28, has made the temporary switch from Kent and has played six T20Is for Italy while Burrows, 23, has moved to Hove on a short-term contract after being released by Lancashire last summer.

Steven Finn, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, George Garton, Dan Ibrahim and Jack Carson are all sidelined along with Jofra Archer, while fellow England bowler, Ollie Robinson is unavailable as he requires dental treatment after suffering a tooth infection.

D’Oliveira, opted to bat on winning the toss and New Road looked a picture in warm sunshine with a sizeable crowd watching cricket at the ground in April for the first time in three years. It is just seven weeks since the ground was under several feet of water due to the flooding of the adjacent River Severn

Worcestershire chose an unchanged side to that which impressed in coming so close to forcing victory in the opening game away to Leicestershire.

Pollock had scored a superb century in the second innings of that match, his first County Championship appearance, and he again looked in excellent form when opening with Jake Libby. He had a slice of good fortune on 36 when he aimed a big hit against Stewart and the ball was helped over the boundary for six by Burrows fielding at fine leg. But Pollock continued to play with great freedom and brought up a half-century off only 47 balls.

Libby played a solid support role during an opening stand of 85 but then was the first of three wickets to fall in four overs. He nibbled at a delivery from Sussex captain Tom Haines and Alsop clung onto a low, sharp chance at slip.

There was warm applause for Pakistan Test star, Azhar Ali, as he made his way to the wicket on his home debut for Worcestershire.

Haines struck again when Pollock, on 77, forced a delivery off the back foot and was caught at backward point. He faced just 74 deliveries and hit one six and 14 fours.

Jack Haynes flicked a delivery from Burrows off his legs into the hands of square leg and, after making 20, Azhar was lbw to one angled back into him by Haines at 133 for 4.

D’Oliveira blossomed after his let-off and a back foot cover drive for four off Jamie Allen was one of several sumptuous strokes reeled off by the 30-year-old.

Barnard had been the ideal ally when launching a recovery with D’Oliveira at Leicester and the pair combined well again during the afternoon session today, the allrounder showing his class with a delicate late cut for four off Tom Clark. After tea, the fifth-wicket pair consolidated Worcestershire’s position and increased their partnership to 166.

The second new ball brought about a breakthrough when Barnard was lbw to Stewart for 75.

D’Oliveira was made to work hard for his runs in the 90s but a single off Crocombe took him to three figures off 216 balls with 11 boundaries. Haines ended the day with figures of 17-3-46-3.


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