Saturday, June 10th, 2023


Jake Libby is fit to return to LV=Insurance County Championship action for Worcestershire and looking forward to returning to a ground which holds “special memories” after his memorable knock last summer.

The opener has recovered from the back problem which ruled him out of the last two LV=Insurance County Championship matches with Glamorgan and Leicestershire and the start of the Vitality Blast.

But he has made a successful comeback in two T20 matches for the Seconds and available for the top three Championship encounter with Sussex at Hove beginning on Sunday.

It was in the corresponding fixture last season that Libby scored his maiden double century in a superb innings spanning three days because of the weather.

He is part of a 13 strong squad which also includes Pakistan leg spinner Usama Mir who is set for his County Championship debut after playing the opening three matches for the Rapids in the Blast.

Libby said: “It’s been frustrating to miss the last two Championship matches but I’ve been working hard to get fit and looking forward to returning to a ground which has special memories after what happened last summer.

“To register my first double century is something I will remember for a long time, and it was unusual in spanning three days because of the weather.”

Libby began this season with a century in the win over Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground and is lying second in the Worcestershire batting averages with 241 runs at 34.42.

He is hoping to help Worcestershire build on a superb win against Leicestershire in their last red ball encounter three weeks ago after recovering from being bowled out cheaply in their first innings.

Libby said: “I’ve felt in decent touch this year and getting a hundred so early in the season obviously gives you a lot of confidence.

“Our form has been a bit up and down in the Championship, a couple of good wins and performances and a couple of games where things haven’t quite clicked.

“But the boys showed tremendous character to fight back from being bowled out on day one against Leicestershire to win after a tense final day which was a great advert for Championship cricket and that typified the spirit in the camp.

“We are in a decent position in the Championship table and hopefully we can take the momentum from the last game into the second half of the season.

“I’ve not been able to play any red ball cricket for the Seconds because of the schedule but managed to have a couple of decent knocks in the T20 competition and can’t wait to get back out on the field with the lads.”

Head Coach Alan Richardson said: “Jake is really crucial for us and he’s put in some good practice over the last couple of weeks and got a little bit of game time in as well.

“He has been working diligently and incredibly hard with Andy Powell, getting himself ready for the next game.”

Gareth Roderick, Joe Leach and Azhar Ali will also return to the Worcestershire squad after two and a half weeks of Vitality Blast action for the Rapids.

Pakistan spinner Usama Mir has also been signed for Sunday’s encounter after impressing in the opening three Blast matches.

Richardson said: “For people like Jake, Gareth, Joe and Azhar, they will be chomping at the bit to get into that red ball stuff.

“They will give us some renewed energy and enthusiasm which will be fantastic.” 

Worcestershire are currently lying in third spot, just 10 points behind second placed Sussex with whom they shared the spoils at New Road after Azhar Ali’s superb last day century.

Richardson said: “It’s nice to get a couple of wins away. The performances are the most important one and we need to make sure we put ourselves in with a chance of winning over what is nearly 400 overs (four days). 

“We have to give ourselves an opportunity to do that and make sure we are very aware of how that looks for us.”

Richardson says the win over Leicestershire highlighted the ability in the squad to recover and win from all sorts of positions.

He said: “That session at the end of day one put us in a position where we had to fight incredibly hard to try and get a win, and we did that and shows amazing character and spirit.

“That session put us behind in the game and we did unbelievably well. The boys demonstrated how tough they can be.

“Whatever happens during the season, whatever positions we get ourselves into, it shows we can still battle really well and give ourselves a chance of winning games.”