Worthington makes short work of West Pilbara at country week cricket
In cricket, there a few substitutes for experience, and Michael Worthington proved as much during a masterful display against West Pilbara at Iluka Sports Complex on Sunday.
The veteran left-arm orthodox spinner collected 5-25 from 15 overs, removing Brooke Ball (16), James O’Brien (45), Daniel Harding (one), Marcus O’Brien (zero) and Muhummad Uzair (zero) with a mixture of skill, guile and mental fortitude. And, as always, context was everything.
Worthington entered the fray when his team looked at risk of falling behind the pace. Granted, Josh Harper (6-3-9-1) and Matt Carter’s (12-6-25-2) opening spells were economical, but dangerous right-hander O’Brien had taken a liking to left-arm seamer Graham Kennedy (3-0-25-0).
O’Brien and Ball belted 13 runs off Kennedy’s third over, heaving several full deliveries through the leg side, before captain Bevan Bennell pulled the trigger on a premature bowling change.
Worthington took just two overs to strike, castling Ball with a well-directed quicker delivery.
Perhaps anticipating something loopier and shorter, Ball swung across the line and paid the price — a sight familiar to those who frequently watch Worthington in the Eastern Goldfields Cricket Association. Worthington repeated the dose against the dangerous O’Brien — the only West Pilbara batsman to offer any meaningful resistance. Like Ball before him, O’Brien was seduced by several flighted deliveries before taking the long handle to a well-directed yorker.
No.6 Harding and No.10 Marcus O’Brien fell in identical fashion.
Uzair was the only of Worthington’s victims to defy the trend, chipping a looping off-break back towards the bowler.
Sensing a chance to improve his figures, Worthington set sail to his left and hauled in a spectacular one-handed effort.
No doubt part of the tweaker’s success can be attributed to the discipline of Eastern Goldfields’ pace battery.
Harper, Carter, Carl Salmon (4.2-1-7-1) and Luke Boxhall (4-1-8-0) hit awkward lengths and seldom offered anything loose. West Pilbara were consistently under pressure to increase the scoring rate and, for whatever reason, Worthington seemed an easy target. Hindsight tells us — and them — he wasn’t.
Worthington generated plenty of drift with the assistance of a stiff easterly breeze, used throughout to his advantage, and consistently flighted the ball above eye level.
He manoeuvred the opposition around the crease, lulled them into feeling secure and fired in the change-up with clinical expertise, the sort of nous only experience buys. West Pilbara were rolled for just 100, leaving Eastern Goldfields well placed to start their country week campaign in spectacular fashion.
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