Royals face Pro40 play-off

Smith's century not enough for Worcestershire

Last Updated: 14/09/08 7:39pm

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Smith: century could not prevent defeat

Smith: century could not prevent defeat

Sky Bet

NatWest Pro40 - Division One
Middlesex Crusaders 253-6 (E C Joyce 99) v Worcestershire Royals 242 (B F Smith 107, D P Nannes 4-38)
Middlesex beat Worcestershire by 11 runs

Worcestershire Royals' Pro40 Division One future will depend on a play-off against Glamorgan Dragons at Cardiff on Sunday following an 11-run defeat to already-relegated Middlesex Crusaders on Sunday.

The play-off date delays Graeme Hick's retirement by 24 hours, the 42-year-old having already announced his plan to quit at the end of the season.

Worcestershire suffered a spectacular late collapse to be bowled out for 242 from 39.4 overs in pursuit of a target of 254.

The Royals lost their last five wickets for just one run in the space of seven deliveries to ensure Ben Smith's century went to waste.

Smith had smashed two sixes and nine fours during a 95-ball innings of 107, his first three-figure score in the competition for 13 years.

Worcestershire, last year's champions, made an uncertain start to their run chase by losing Vikram Solanki cheaply before Steven Davies and Stephen Moore began to steady the ship slightly by pushing their side past the 50 mark.

Davies, however, had an escape while on 14 when Ed Joyce was unable to hold on to a sharp one-handed catch at first slip off Tim Murtagh, who quickly recovered to oust Moore.

Standing ovation

Left-arm paceman Dirk Nannes trapped Davies lbw to bring out Hick, who received a standing ovation from the 2,000 crowd and a guard of honour by the Middlesex players as he strolled to the wicket.

The veteran right-hander spent 42 minutes in the middle before hitting Dawid Malan to Eoin Morgan at short cover to spark off another heartfelt round of applause as he made his way back to the pavilion.

Hick, who has piled up 22,059 runs in 651 List A appearances, had put on 53 with Smith - who reached 75 before being dropped by Steven Finn during a prosperous partnership with Daryl Mitchell (46).

Mitchell was eventually stumped by Ben Scott off Murtagh after putting on 100 in 14 overs with Smith.

Battling Smith was run out by an excellent piece of fielding by Tyron Henderson before Gareth Andrew, Gareth Batty, Chris Whelan and AJ Harris followed in dramatic quickfire succession with Nannes taking 4-38 and Murtagh 3-51.

Joyce scripts big total

Earlier, Joyce made 99 to guide Middlesex to 253-6 after they were asked to bat.

The Irish left-hander put on 107 in 17 overs with fellow opener Billy Godleman - the Crusaders only three-figure stand for any wicket in the competition this season.

Godleman finally departed for a List A best score of 48 when he was stumped by Davies from Batty's off-spin.

Henderson fell to a catch in the midwicket boundary by Moore off Mitchell before teenage debutant Sam Robson became the 1,008th catch in all cricket for Hick.

Morgan was removed by Andrew before Joyce, backing up, was run out in the same over by a smart pick up and throw by Solanki.

It was just one run short of the fifth List A century with Worcestershire's final scalp being Dawid Malan, who was dismissed by a beautifully-judged low catch by Chris Whelan off Andrew.

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