Jake Libby carried his bat for a magnificent undefeated 180 in an innings of immense quality and concentration as Worcestershire matched reigning champions, Essex, all the way in the LV=Insurance County Championship game at Chelmsford, which ended in a draw.
Libby finished unbeaten on 180 – just four short of his career-best score achieved against Glamorgan last season – in a knock spanning more than TWELVE hours and nearly 500 deliveries.
He was on the field for every minute of all four days. He led a magnificent recovery from 43-4 to 475 all out with sterling support from Riki Wessels, maiden century-maker Ed Barnard and Dillon Pennington, who achieved his first fifty in first-class cricket.
Libby’s remarkable innings spanned three days and three new balls and was a testament to immense powers of stamina and determination against a quality bowling attack.
He did not give a single chance, and his effort was all the more remarkable given that he had been in the field for five and a half sessions before launching his innings late on the second day.
Libby is the first Worcestershire player to carry his bat since his current opening partner Daryl Mitchell achieved the feat against Hampshire at New Road in 2015.
He batted for 724 minutes, faced 496 balls, hit one six and 15 fours, and left the outfield to a standing ovation from his teammates.
The match was a superb advert for hard-fought, red-ball cricket and Worcestershire gave as good as they got against the top side in four-day cricket in recent years.
The attack showed great discipline for the best part of two days – with Charlie Morris claiming his 200th first-class wicket – on a good pitch in ensuring Essex had to work hard to establish a total.
Then, after some early challenges with the bat, Libby and his teammates showed the kind of form evident in last summer’s Bob Willis Trophy, and this is the fourth time in the previous six first-class games they have totalled more than 400.
It means they collect a haul of 12 points from the game – one for bowling, three for batting and eight for a share of the spoils.
Worcestershire resumed on 350-6 from 122 overs, with Libby unbeaten on 141 and Barnard 116 not out.
The seventh-wicket pair continued in the same impressive form as yesterday, with Barnard cover-driving Simon Harmer for four.
Libby produced the first six of the innings when he used his feet to hit the same bowler over long-on and move onto 149.
His 150 came up with a single off Harmer onto the leg side – from 392 balls and also containing 13 fours.
Jamie Porter was cut and on driven for boundaries by Libby, but the stand was finally broken after adding 244 in 91 overs.
Barnard went for a drive and was bowled by Dan Lawrence for a superb 128 from 263 balls with 18 fours.
The partnership was the second-highest by Worcestershire for the seventh wicket against ANY county and ended just 12 runs short of the 256 by David Leatherdale and Steve Rhodes against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 2002.
Club Captain Joe Leach (1) was caught down the legside by keeper Adam Wheater off Ben Allison in the next over.
But Pennington looked in good touch and produced several fine strokes before a single onto the offside by Libby raised the 400 in 148.2 overs.
Libby had advanced to 165 out of 405-8 at lunch, and after play resumed, the Essex attack took a third new ball.
Pennington cut Ben Allison for four to complete a half-century stand of which he scored 42, and his fifty came up from 103 balls with his ninth four, off Paul Walter.
He was eventually stumped for 56 off Harmer, who then trapped last man Charlie Morris (6) lbw on the stroke of tea.
When Essex batted for a second time, Leach picked up the prized scalp of Alastair Cook (12), who went for a drive and was bowled before the players shook hands at 28-1 off ten overs.