Riki Wessels puts Pears in charge
Riki Wessels marked his home County Championship Division Two debut for Worcestershire with a superb century as his side established control against Durham at New Road.
The 33-year-old reached three figures off 120 balls with four sixes and 13 fours and entertained the sun-drenched crowd with a series of sparkling strokes.
It was the 23rd First Class hundred of his career and first since making the move from Nottinghamshire to Worcestershire on a three-year contract.
He was eventually dismissed for 118 from 133 balls after hitting four sixes and 16 fours as Worcestershire closed on 321-6 and a lead of 48.
But Wessels will be the first to acknowledge the major importance of the contribution of Josh Dell (61) on his First Class debut for the county after the pair added 140 in 34 overs for the fifth wicket.
Academy product Dell came to the wicket at 17-3 and showed great determination and composure in a 135-ball half-century.
He seized the opportunity given to him after carrying his bat in making a century against Lancashire Seconds.
Worcestershire resumed on one for one in reply to Durham’s first innings total of 273 and suffered two early setbacks.
Tom Fell was lbw to Durham paceman Matt Salisbury for six after looking to work the ball on the leg side.
The same bowler then accounted for night-watchman Charlie Morris who was caught on the crease and nicked through to keeper Ned Eckersley.
There was a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Dell and George Rhodes, playing his first Championship match for 13 months, and the pair responded in determined fashion.
It was a similar scenario to day one when Durham captain Cameron Bancroft and Jack Burnham came together at 14 for three and showed plenty of fight and resilience in reviving the innings.
Dell got off the mark from his 10th delivery with a cut for four off Matthew Potts and brought up the 50 in the 28th over with a boundary off Gareth Harte.
The stand was broken after adding 47 in 28 overs when Rhodes (28) was lbw to Raine but that brought in Wessels who gradually upped the tempo.
He picked up four boundaries in the space of six balls - two each off Salisbury and Potts - and then smashed Liam Trevaskis for sixes over long off and long on in the same over.
Wessels went to his half-century off 56 balls and the 100 stand with Dell came up in just 19 overs.
Dell then completed an excellent fifty when he steered Chris Rushworth down to third man for his eighth boundary and received a standing ovation from his team-mates on the dressing room balcony.
The stand was broken when Dell (61) attempted a straight drive and was bowled by a full length Harte delivery.
The penultimate over before the second new ball was taken accounted for Wessels who flicked Potts to mid wicket.
But Ross Whiteley ensured the momentum of the Worcestershire innings was maintained and twice deposited Chris Rushworth for six on his way to a 71-ball half-century.
By the close he was unbeaten on 62 and vice-captain Ben Cox (28 not out) provided excellent support in an unbroken stand of 85.