Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023


Ben Gibbon hopes to “keep putting my name in the hat” to take the new ball as he prepares for Thursday’s home LV=Insurance County Championship encounter with Sussex and their star Test batting duo of Steve Smith and Cheteshwar Pujara. 

The Worcestershire pace bowler shared that role with Joe Leach during the drawn game with Gloucestershire at New Road and in the first innings picked up two early wickets. 

It was the first time that Gibbon has taken the new ball this summer after being either first or second change in the opening two away matches with Derbyshire and Durham. 

The 22-year-old gained confidence from behind handed that responsibility in a game where Worcestershire featured Dillon Pennington and Josh Tongue in the same fixture for the first time this summer, alongside Leach and Matthew Waite. 

He has also now been selected for seven successive Championship matches – the equivalent of half a season – after starting the final four games of 2022 and the first three of the current campaign. 

After the opening three rounds of games, Gibbon and Leach were the joint second leading wicket-takers in Division Two with 11 scalps apiece. 

But Gibbon is aware of the healthy competition for places and the need to keep improving and being as consistent as possible. 

He said: “I enjoy bowling with the new ball. My plan (against Gloucestershire) was to try and get it swinging as much as I can and just to keep improving with my line and length, and hopefully keep putting my name in the hat to keep taking it in the future. 

“I think it helped as well with there being quite a few left handers at the top of their order for me trying to shape the ball away from them. 

“It was nice to get two (wickets) early doors as well. 

“Does starting seven games in a row give you confidence and belief? Yes it does. I really enjoy four-day cricket. I think it is really rewarding.  

“There is a lot of hard work that goes in so the aim is to keep bowling well and improving and striving to put my name in the hat for selection for the next game.” 

Gibbon is a big admirer of Leach’s abilities which have brought him more than 400 first class wickets for Worcestershire. 

He said: “Joe is a great bowler, and got tremendous skills, and he is very accurate, so he is always in the game with wicket-taking opportunities. 

“It is about backing up his spells at the other end with being as consistent as I can.” 

After a rain-ruined pre-season programme, Gibbon feels the bowlers are starting to reap the rewards of having a trio of Championship games under their belt and the overs in their legs, 

After reducing Gloucestershire to 45-7 in their first innings, the attack bowled well as a unit with little tangible reward in the second innings, constantly beating the bat. 

Gibbon said: “You try to bowl as much as you can in training, and I suppose I was one of the lucky ones going away this winter (to Australia) and playing regularly.  

“But then after coming back and a bit of a break, it was about getting the overs in the legs again and I feel we are getting there.  

“I’m certainly getting more confident in my bowling again now I’m bowling overs.” 

Gibbon has massive respect for Smith and what he has achieved with Australia but if selected is looking forward to the challenge. 

He said: “It will be a good experience to bowl at him and see how he goes about his business. 

“But it is also another good chance to step up my game against another top player. 

“If selected I’m looking forward to bowling at him. Like I said, a top, top player but hopefully we can keep him quiet and get him out early.” 

Gibbon has not only played his part with the ball so far this season but also with the bat in helping Matthew Waite reached his maiden first class century during the win against Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground. 

He scored an invaluable 30 during a last wicket stand of 82 which enabled Waite to reach three figures. 

He said: “I got a bit lucky because I chipped one straight up off a no ball when he was on 70 odd. 

“Then all of a sudden the runs started flowing and he was at his hundred. 

“I enjoyed batting with him that game. There was a bit of pressure to get him through to his hundred and a couple of nervy moments but luckily I stayed in there for him.” 

Gibbon is also relishing the type of cricket Worcestershire are playing under Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira. 

He said: “We are playing some good cricket and Dolly (D’Oliveira) wants us to play the games as positively as we can and really take the game on. 

“Everyone is enjoying it and I think it will stand us in good stead come the back end of the season. 

“The exciting thing is our best cricket is to come, especially playing the way we are.” 

*Matthew Waite turned in a fine all-round performance for Methley in a Bradford Premier League encounter with Farsley.

Waite scored 85 of Methley’s 237-8 and then returned 3-18 with the ball as Farsley were bowled out for 89.

*Academy player Ollie Walker top-scored with 44 for Herefordshire (126 all out) in their National Counties T20 triumph over Cornwall by four runs at Werrington.

*The Academy’s opening ECB T20 County Cup Group match with Cricket Wales at Sophia Gardens and the T20 friendly with Northamptonshire at the same venue were both washed out.