Monday, June 12th, 2023


Jake Libby returned to action magnificently with an unbeaten 198 on day two of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Sussex at the 1st Central County Ground at Hove.

Libby had hit a career-best 215 – his maiden double-century – in the corresponding match last September.

He produced the same brilliant form after recovering from a back injury and batted for six and a quarter hours.

Libby faced 257 balls and struck 28 boundaries as Worcestershire closed on 410-9 – a lead of 62.

It was another superb mixture of concentration and excellent stroke play from the 30-year-old who completed his 14th first class century – and his fourth against Sussex.

Libby was given excellent support, sharing in half-century stands with Gareth Roderick, Azhar Ali and then the major partnership of the day, a 192 in 32 overs with Adam Hose.

Hose hit his highest first class score of 85 for Worcestershire, surpassing by one run his fine knock in the win over Leicestershire at New Road in the previous game. 

The spell just before and after the second new ball was taken meant six wickets fell for 29 runs after Worcestershire had reached 366-3.

But Ben Gibbon stayed firm in the closing stages of the day to leave Libby needing just two runs to complete back-to-back double hundreds against Sussex.

Sussex resumed on 338-9 with the floodlights on and added ten runs before Ben Gibbon wrapped up the innings in 92.4 overs.

Jack Carson (64) went for a drive against the left-armer and Roderick produced another excellent catch low to his right in front of first slip.

Joe Leach finished with figures of 24-4-78-6, Gibbon 18.4-5-62-1, Adam Finch 13.5-4-58-1, Usama Mir 16.1-0-66-1, Matthew Waite 16-3-65-1 and Brett D’Oliveira 4-1-16-0.

Roderick opened the batting for Worcestershire in Championship cricket for the first time alongside Libby, who had missed two Championship matches with a back problem.

Libby was soon into his stride with handsome cover drives for four against the new ball attack of Nathan McAndrew and Henry Shipley.

Roderick then collected three boundaries in an over from McAndrew via a clip off his legs, an on drive and a pull.

The pair brought up the half century partnership in just 11.2 overs.

The stand was worth 52 when Roderick, having raced to 30 off 33 balls, inside-edged a delivery from Shipley onto his pad, and the ball flew to James Coles, who took a diving catch at third slip.

Azhar Ali also began in positive fashion and demonstrated all of his class with two handsome drives to the ropes at the expense of Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Tom Haines.

Libby continued to bat impressively, picking up two more fours in an over from Hudson-Prentice, as Worcestershire reached 94-1 from 23 overs by lunch.

Sussex bowled a tighter line in the initial part of the afternoon session, and Shipley ended a partnership of 56 between Libby and Azhar.

Azhar, on 25, played at a delivery of extra bounce that was away from his body, and keeper Oli Carter pouched the chance low to his right.

Libby went on to complete an excellent 79 ball half century when driving McAndrew for his eighth four.

New batter Jack Haynes was quickly into his stride with successive boundaries off Ari Karvelas.

A third successive 50-plus partnership of the innings came up from 78 balls between Libby and Haynes.

Haynes (27) edged a Fynn Hudson-Prentice delivery to first slip at 174-3 in the 47th over.

But Libby went on to complete a superb hundred when he guided Hudson-Prentice down to the third man boundary shortly before tea.

Hose joined Libby at the crease, and the pair really cut loose during the final session, scoring for long periods at around six runs an over.

Libby was the dominant partner, and three fours in an over from Dan Ibrahim brought up the first batting bonus point in the 62nd over.

Hose also reeled off some superb strokes, and the 100 partnership spanned just 112 balls, of which Libby scored 62.

Libby gave his first chance on 122 when Tom Alsop failed to hold onto a hard chance at first slip off Ibrahim, and he went on to complete his 150 from 199 balls with 24 fours.

Hose was the perfect foil to Libby, and his own half century – his third in the Championship this summer – came up from 67 balls with eight fours.

The pair took heavy toll of the home attack and moved ahead on first innings in the 76th over.

Hose came down the wicket to smash Carson over long on for the first six of the innings and had advanced to 85 before being bowled by Ibrahim.

D’Oliveira (0) was caught at first slip off Coles from a delivery which turned sharply in the final over before the second new ball was taken.

Waite (3), Leach (8), Usama (0) and Finch (0) were dismissed in quick succession but Libby remained in command through to the close.