Worcestershire 297 for 5 (Clarke 103*, Moeen 74, Cox 59*) trail Gloucestershire 380 (Marshall 135, Shantry 4-89) by 83 runs
Joe Clarke confirmed his standing as one of the game's most exciting young players with a century on the second day of Worcestershire's County Championship game against Gloucestershire in Bristol. The 19-year-old England Lions batsman outshone his elders as Worcestershire finished the day trailing their hosts by 83 runs with five wickets in hand.
Having resumed on their impressive overnight total of 336 for 5, Gloucestershire lost their way in the morning session as Worcestershire fought back into the contest. The downward spiral began as early as the first over when Kieran Noema-Barnett perished to the third ball of the day, without adding to his overnight score.
Thereafter, it was something of a batting capitulation for Gloucestershire, as Jack Shantry and Matt Henry bowled with real purpose on a pitch that provided the seamers with genuine encouragement. Jack Taylor, Liam Norwell, first-day centurion Hamish Marshall and David Payne all followed Noema-Barnett back to the pavilion as Gloucestershire lost their remaining wickets for just 44 runs.
Shantry was the pick of the Worcestershire bowlers with 4 for 89 while New Zealand international Henry weighed in with figures of 3 for 89.
In reply to Gloucestershire's 380 all out, Worcestershire lost opener Daryl Mitchell to the first ball of the innings, lbw to Payne. However, they recovered their poise in the 40 minutes before lunch, courtesy of Moeen Ali and Brett D'Oliveira. Both batsmen played with due care and attention as the visitors reached 40 for 1 at the interval.
If the morning session belonged to Worcestershire, the two hours between lunch and tea were very much Gloucestershire's as the score slumped from 120 for 1 to 131 for 4 inside four overs. Moeen and D'Oliveira, who were both dropped, added 120 for the second wicket before the former was caught behind by Gareth Roderick off the bowling of on-loan seamer Josh Shaw.
The England batsman struck 10 boundaries in reaching his half century, off 85 balls, but was eventually picked up when attempting to cut Shaw through square.
Noema-Barnett trapped D'Oliveira lbw at 128 for 3, in the 32nd over, and shortly after Tom Kohler-Cadmore was bowled by the impressive Shaw, from the Pavilion End.
After tea, the game swung back in Worcestershire's favour, courtesy of an impressive innings from the teenager Clarke. Having pushed his way to 37 not out at the break, he passed 50 off 53 balls and joined forces with Ben Cox to frustrate Gloucestershire's tiring attack.
Gloucestershire turned to Taylor with 19 overs of the day remaining, but Clarke and Cox were equally adept against the off-spinner. The pair posted their hundred partnership, inside 25 overs, with Cox reaching 50 with his ninth four and Clarke helping himself to a second Championship century, and a second first-class hundred this season, off 124 deliveries with 13 fours.