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Clarke century leads North to series win

Worcestershire batsman hits 112 as the North complete a series comeback courtesy of a 96-run victory in Barbados

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The 21-year-old right-hander had scored 46 in the North’s opening defeat before hitting 71 in their series levelling victory on Wednesday. He will have been disappointed not to have converted either previous scores to three figures, but he made no mistake at the third time of asking. He hit 10 fours and 5 sixes in a knock that ends his winter on a high after a difficult Lions tour.
Clarke’s fine knock was instrumental in propelling the North to their final 297 for six, a score that always appeared imposing on a slow, low track.
 
Alex Davies had fallen early to the impressively nippy left-armer Tom Barber. The Middlesex 22-year-old, took the field in place of Paul Walter, rested due to a minor side niggle, but who is expected to be fit for the MCC Champion County match. Barber, inexperienced at county level, regularly hurried his opponents and ended with two for 48 from his 10 overs.
 
Sam Hain had an early escape on 1 when he edged Barber between keeper and first slip before proceeding to add 143 for the second wicket with Clarke before being bowled by Jamie Porter.
 
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Andrew Strauss presents Steven Mullaney with the winners trophy
 
Clarke was run out by smart work from Laurie Evans, Keaton Jennings bowled by one that gripped from Dominic Bess, before Steven Mullaney and Brett D’Oliveira posted their third fifty-plus stand of the series. Mullaney’s 45-ball 52 saw his side to an above par score, assisted by another late cameo from Matt Critchley, who made an unbeaten 25.
 
The South’s reply suffered a big blow before it even began. Nick Gubbins, a centurion in the first two matches played at the Kensington Oval, was forced to leave the field in the 18th over when suffering a hamstring injury after sliding to stop a ball at deep cover. He will undergo a scan in London on Monday.
 
The loss of their in-form opener proved costly to the South who, after taking 46 from the seam-bowled 10-over powerplay, lost their way against spin. With pace off the ball Matt Parkinson and Brett D’Oliveira began to halt proceedings. Daniel Bell-Drummond had made 37 when D’Oliveira had the Kent batsman playing all around one. Then as the dots were mounting Sam Northeast attempted to break the shackles but only succeeded in lobbing Matt Critchley to Keaton Jennings at long-off.
 
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Saqib Mahmood bowls Laurie Evans 
 
Ollie Pope, promoted to open in Gubbins’ absence, made 68 in 76 balls, but no one seemed eager to stay with him. Sam Northeast and Delray Rawlins both made double figures, but holed out in to long-off. Critchley, who had accounted for Northeast, added Sam Curran to his two-wicket haul, another batsman falling in the deep.
 
Saqib Mahmood took his tally to a series high of eight wickets in the series, adding Pope and Evans to his scalps, but it was pace off the ball that slowed the run-rate and suffocated the South.
 
The South’s struggles proved how well Clarke had played. He finished with a series-best 229 runs at 76.33 and ended the day named Player of the Series.
 
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Player of the series, Clarke
 
Report courtesy of the ECB

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