Worcestershire opener Jake Libby relishes taking on the best bowling talent and learning from the tests they provide as he prepares to face Stuart Broad in the LV=Insurance County Championship clash with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Libby says such battles allow you to judge your standing as a player and will enable you to develop your game.
He is gearing up to face his former club and says Worcestershire are “really pleased with where we are as a squad” after impressive performances against Leicestershire and Sussex.
Libby said: “Do you enjoy facing top bowlers? That is what you are judged on, to play against someone like Stuart Broad.
“It is always a great challenge, and he is one of the best bowlers England has ever had. It’s a real test of where your game is at.
“Although it is not going to be an easy challenge by any means, it is a good enjoyable challenge, is the way I would word it.
“When you play against these Test and best players, you always try and up your game, and you always reflect on it and judge yourself as to where you are.
“It is not going to get any more challenging than playing against these guys, but it is something you look forward to as a cricketer and try and thrive off.
“I learnt a hell of a lot playing against better players; that’s how you get better and keep developing your own game, learning from mistakes you’ve made.”
Libby has opened for two years alongside the now-retired Daryl Mitchell, and it is a complete contrast having the aggressive Ed Pollock in that role.
But Libby has enjoyed watching the different approach and dynamics that Pollock has brought against the new ball.
He said: “It’s been big shoes to fill, and it’s probably a slightly different brand of cricket, but it’s been massively effective so far and I’ve really enjoyed watching it from the other end.
“It’s just the way he puts pressure back on the bowlers and really takes the game to them.
“He attacks the top of off stump delivery the bowlers are trying to bowl, and it is certainly a different dynamic, but I think it has worked well so far.
“They start to set different fields to him. There are different ways to play the new ball, and the brand he comes with has been a real positive for the group so far.
“It is entertaining to watch, and I don’t think you know what is coming next with him.
“Does it affect way my game? I’ve got to do my best to try and shut out what is happening his end, but it has allowed the likes of Brett (D’Oliveira), who has batted so well, to come in and reap the rewards of Ed as well.”
Libby has also been impressed with the impact made by spinner Josh Baker since he broke into the side.
He said: “This is my third season now, and this is the strongest squad we’ve had. There is a lot of competition for places.
“Josh Baker has come in and added a different dimension to our side. I think he has added so much just in terms of wicket threat and how he can control the game.
“He has got some key wickets, perhaps when the seamers have found the wicket not so helpful with the older ball.
“Josh has been a really good dynamic for the side.
“We’ve also got other players waiting to come in, other seamers that are pushing, so the squad is in a really good shape.”
Only the loss of a day’s play at Leicester prevented Worcestershire from launching the campaign with two wins.
Libby said: “Two really positive performances all-round. I think we are batting well as a unit, and a few individuals have done really well, but, as a collective, we’ve batted well.
“The bowlers have bowled really well, showed such good discipline with their line and length, and they keep coming back spell after spell.
“To knock over Sussex, who had a good batting line-up, twice and take all those wickets (15) in one day, was a hell of a performance and credit to the work they’ve been putting in during the winter.
“I know they’ve worked really hard, and it is starting to take shape now, and I think we can be really pleased with where we are as a squad.”
Worcestershire have named a 12 strong squad to travel to Trent Bridge – the 11 players in action against Sussex plus pace bowler Adam Finch.
Finch participated on the opening day of the current Second Eleven friendly with Leeds-Bradford UCCE at Kidderminster and bowled ten tidy overs.
Head Coach Alex Gidman said: “A really exciting challenge. We’ve had two really good performances and good games of cricket so far, and we know that Nottinghamshire are very strong.
“But we are really looking forward to it and excited about the next few days.”
Brett D’Oliveira (c)
Ben Cox (w)