Northants overcome Worcestershire despite brilliant Joe Leach hat-trick
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Northants overcome Worcestershire despite brilliant Joe Leach hat-trick: Worcestershire Rapids’ all-rounder Joe Leach took a hat-trick on the first three balls of the match but finished on the losing side as Northamptonshire Steelback won the game by 21 runs in the Royal London Cup. Courtsey Leach’s incredible first-over hat-trick, Northants fell to 19 for six.
But in a gripping game on an unpredictable pitch, they reached a creditable 126 thanks to Rory Kleinveldt’s 33 from 39 balls. Leach and new ball partner Jack Shantry claimed four wickets each. Then paceman Mohammad Azharullah took four for 22 as Worcestershire were dismissed for 105 in 31 overs to slump to a 21-run defeat.
Leach, 24, said, ‘I can’t believe I’m standing here after we’ve lost that game. Obviously the first three balls were an unbelievable feeling but I’m gutted at the way the rest of the game has gone. I just put the ball in what I thought was a decent area and the batsmen nicked it. The hat-trick ball came out a little shorter than I intended and that was partly the reason why he (Ben Duckett) gloved it. Cricket’s a funny old game, isn’t it? On some days you bowl six perfect balls and get taken for eight off an over. Other days you don’t get it quite right and get a hat-trick.’
Leach’s feat is not unique in modern times. In 2003 Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas began a World Cup match with three wickets in three balls against Bangladesh in South Africa. In the chase, Worcestershire fell to 48 for six before Leach took centre stage again, smashing 21 off 10 balls before top edging to third man. While wicket keeper Ben Cox was at the crease the hosts had a chance, but when the right-hander was the last man out for 36, Worcestershire were dismissed for 105 to lose by 21 runs.
Mohammad Azharullah, who replied with four for 22 for Northants, said, “I don’t remember a game like that in my career. It was just one of those games, a once in a lifetime experience”.