Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

LIBBY AGAIN DEFIES ESSEX AS COUNTY BATTLE THROUGH LAST DAY TO EARN DRAW

Jake Libby ensured it was mission accomplished for Worcestershire, who held off the challenge of reigning champions Essex for the second time in four games to earn an honourable draw in the LV=Insurance County Championship match at New Road.

Worcestershire had shown great application in batting through the final two days at Chelmsford to share the spoils in the season’s opening game when Libby batted for more than 11 hours in scoring an unbeaten 180.

They repeated the feat during the last two days when once again facing a substantial total and, although asked to follow on, their batsmen again dug in on a sluggish pitch offering little encouragement to the bowlers.

Libby completed his half-century off 126 balls with six fours in keeping Essex at bay for the final two sessions.

He ended unbeaten on 52 as Worcestershire ended proceedings on 129-2 from 57 overs.

It helped ensure Worcestershire ended with 11 points from the game โ€“ three for batting and eight for the draw โ€“ to keep them very much in the hunt for promotion from Group 1 with four of the ten fixtures completed.

The County resumed on 302-5 in their first innings, with Riki Wessels unbeaten on 24 and Ben Cox 23 not out.

Wessels on drove Sam Cook for the first boundary of the day but survived a difficult chance at mid-wicket off Shane Snater.

He added 54 with Cox but then attempted to cut Cook and chopped the ball onto his stumps when on 33.

Cox went on the offensive against Snater and struck him for three successive boundaries.

The wicket-keeper batsman had advanced to 37 when he pushed forward and was bowled through the gate by Cook.

Alzarri Joseph (0) became Cook’s third victim of the day within the space of 16 deliveries when he was lbw.

Ed Barnard (1), a century-maker in the meeting at Chelmsford last month, was bowled by a Simon Harmer delivery which turned sharply.

But the last Worcestershire pair of Dillon Pennington and Charlie Morris then provided strong resistance and used up valuable time and overs.

Pennington pulled Dan Lawrence for six over mid-wicket, and he and Morris added 38 in 15 overs.

Lawrence broke the partnership 20 minutes before lunch when Pennington (30) went for another pull and was bowled to leave Morris unbeaten on eight.

Sixty-seven overs remained when Daryl Mitchell and Libby began Worcestershire’s second innings, and they safely negotiated three of those before the interval.

Mitchell collected three boundaries in the space of two overs from Peter Siddle but on 20 shouldered arms to Cook and was bowled.

Fell joined Libby, and the pair kept the probing Essex attack, most notably Harmer, at bay.

Fell, who survived one sharp chance off Harmer on 14, cover drove Paul Walter for four, and the 50 partnership with Libby came up from 115 balls.

Libby cut and drove Dan Lawrence for boundaries as the 100 came up in the 34th over.

There was a setback immediately after tea when the first delivery saw Fell lbw to Cook for 35 after adding 81 in 22 overs with Libby.

But Libby and Gareth Roderick (13 not out) batted through the remainder of proceedings.