Jake Libby says batting the other end to fellow Worcestershire CCC opener Daryl Mitchell has been a “massively reassuring” experience for him since arriving at New Road.
Libby had a first season to remember after his move from Nottinghamshire and finished as the country’s leading run-scorer in the Bob Willis Trophy group with 498 from five games.
But he is quick to acknowledge the influence and importance of Mitchell and says being at the wicket with him makes you appreciate how good he is.”
Libby said: “I’ve seen a lot of Mitch over the years, seen his scores, played against him a few times, and he scored a superb century to win an end of season promotion game at Trent Bridge (2017).
“You have always thought ‘an outstandingly good player’.
“But, having joined the club, and opened the batting with him like I did last summer, makes you appreciate just how good he is.
“There is a lot you can learn off him, how he plays the ball, how late he plays the ball.
“You can see how he has got such a good record, averaging 40 in first-class cricket over 15 years or so, with how accomplished his game is.
“Batting the other end to him is massively reassuring.
“We developed a good partnership last season, and hopefully that can continue, but he is a great bloke off the pitch and a vital part of the changing room.
“Mitch maybe towards the end of his playing career but is certainly not slowing down on the pitch.”
Libby is confident Worcestershire can build on last summer’s success when they challenged Somerset all the way for a Lord’s final spot.
He said: “We can take a lot of confidence from what we did last year against strong opposition in a strong table, and it’s trying to replicate that over a more extended period this season.
“We’ve got to build on what we did last season. I’ve got full faith in the squad that we can achieve that again.
“I don’t know what goals we are going to set, but realistically we are in an excellent mindset with red-ball cricket and, based on last season, I think we should be aiming high.
“Starting in August last year was a bonus from a batting point of view, and we will have to adapt to a good chunk of the Championship being played in April-May and be ready for that.
“It is nothing we are not used to normally. In April-May, potentially the bowlers will be the ones winning us games as well, but we’ve also got to take confidence from the batting group and the mountain of runs we scored.”
Libby added: “Is playing in Division One the ultimate goal? With a club like Worcestershire, that is realistic and something we should be aiming for.
“I played against Worcestershire for Nottinghamshire in Division One – and I think they are a Division One club, and that’s something we should be aiming at.
“With the quality of this group and moving forward, we can certainly achieve that.
“It’s a concentrated period of red-ball cricket, Thursday to Sunday through April and May, and we’ve got excellent bowling depth and also batting depth now.
“We are just looking forward to getting going again with a full season ahead of us.”