A century from Joe Clarke helped Worcestershire recover from a perilous position on the second day of their County Championship clash with Gloucestershire in Bristol.
Clarke showcased why many in the game believe he is destined for a big future, helping Worcester fightback after they found themselves 162-5 during the afternoon session at the Brightside Ground.
After a strong final session on day one, the Gloucestershire lower-order threw away their position of strength from overnight, losing 44-5 in the opening session of the day to go from 336-5 at the end of the first day to 380 all out midway through the morning session, before Worcester closed on 297/5 still 83 runs behind their hosts.
Noema-Barnett and Marshall fail to push-on as Shantry and Henry share five wickets to end Glos' first innings
The partnership of 179 between Hamish Marshall and Kieran Noema-Barnett which had been built up in the evening session of day one, was broken in the first over of the day when Noema-Barnett clipped the ball straight down Ross Whiteley's throat at deep-square-leg, to lose his wicket for 84 off the bowling of Jack Shantry.
Jack Taylor then came to the crease for the home side and played in his typically aggressive manor, going at the bowlers from ball one. After hitting three boundaries, Taylor was removed for 12, after edging Matt Henry through to Whiteley's at third-slip, giving the all-rounder his fourth catch of the innings.
Last week's batting hero Liam Norwell stuck about for awhile, making nine before he was trapped LBW by Shantry, with Marshall then following in the next over after he was caught by keeper Ben Cox off Henry after an excellent innings of 135 off of 223 deliveries, which included 15 boundaries.
Numbers 10 and 11 survived a couple of overs against the swinging ball, before David Payne played-on to his stumps for two off Shantry, leaving Josh Shaw unbeaten at the crease on nine as Gloucestershire's first innings came to an end on 380.
Payne snares Mitchell for a diamond, before Moeen leads Worcester fightback
The visitors got off to the worst possible start in their reply, when captain Daryl Mitchell was given out LBW to the first ball of the innings off the bowling of Payne. Following their abandoned match against Kent, this was the first game of the season for Worcester and Mitchell's diamond duck was the worst way to get his campaign underway.
That wicket bought England all-rounder Moeen Ali to the crease, and alongside Brett D'Oliveira, the pair took the Pears to lunch otherwise unscathed at 40-1.
After a slight break in play due to drizzle, the players returned, and Ali looked a class apart in his first innings back since taking part in the World T20 final a couple of weeks ago. Expected to be in England's lineup for the start of the Test series against Sri Lanka which begins at Headingley on Thursday 19th May, Ali got some valuable time in the middle, making 74 off 102 deliveries. His innings included 14 fours and a six, and the left-hander was finally dismissed when gloving through to Gareth Roderick behind the stumps attempting an uppercut off the impressive Shaw.
Ali wicket sparks mini-collapse as loanee Shaw impresses for hosts
Following the prized wicket of Ali, Gloucestershire soon had two more wickets after dismissing D'Oliviera for 40, and then Tom Kohler-Cadmore for a duck. D'Oliveira was eventually out on 40, despite giving chances on 21 and 34, only for the Gloucester fielders to fluff their lines. The first culprit was Marshall, who put down a difficult one-handed chance at point, which was followed by the second drop when Chris Dent put the opener down on 34 for what was a pretty elementary slip catch.
It took a low-straight ball from Noema-Barnett to finally snare D'Oliveira, who tried to flick the ball to leg yet made no contact, giving umpire Martin Saggers one of his easiest LBW decisions of the season. Kohler-Cadmore followed in the next over, when he was cleaned up unceremoniously for a duck by Shaw, as Worcestershire collapsed from 120-1 to 131-4 in the space of five overs.
Gloucestershire managed to grab one more wicket before the tea break, when Noema-Barnett managed to find the edge of Whiteley's bat, for Roderick to catch him for eight. Clarke (37*) and Cox (2*) then saw Worcester through to the interval, with Clarke looking assured at the crease, playing nicely through the off-side.
Clarke reaches century as Worcester bat through evening session for no loss
After the tea break, Clarke and Cox came back out and made hay in the final session of the day, adding 126 runs whilst both remaining at the crease to move their side into a strong position in the match.
Clarke ended the day unbeaten on 103, in an innings which has so far included 13 boundaries, whilst wicketkeeper Cox remains not out on 59 off 110 deliveries, with the pair currently holding an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 135.
Considering this is his first innings of the season, things could not have gone much better for Clarke, who ooked a class-act at the crease. He drove the ball well, and left deliveries outside of his off-stump smartly to lead a Worcestershire fightback which sees them trail their hosts by just 83 going into the third day.