Saturday, January 14th, 2023


Jake Libby is targeting trophy glory ahead of individual goals and believes Worcestershire have the quality to challenge strongly for a Division One spot in the LV=Insurance County Championship.

Libby has made a sizeable impact at New Road since moving from Nottinghamshire at the end of the 2019 season, cementing a place as opener alongside Daryl Mitchell and then Ed Pollock last summer.

He was Worcestershire’s leading run first class run scorer in 2020 (Bob Willis Trophy), and 2021 (LV=Insurance County Championship) and last summer hit his maiden double century against Sussex at Hove.

Libby is now one of Worcestershire’s senior players and enjoys the responsibility that comes with that role in the squad.

But he is also greatly encouraged by the wealth of young talent and competition for places and says the future is bright.

Here Libby looks back over last season and his hopes and aspirations for Worcestershire, the 2023 season and beyond in a Question and Answer session.

Q: Did you manage to get a bit of a break at the end of last season?

Jake Libby: “We had a good six weeks off at the end of the season, which was nice to recharge the batteries after another full-on season.

“I managed to get a couple of holidays, spend a bit of time with the family and generally get my head away from cricket for a bit.

“I play quite a bit of golf, and it’s a good way of relaxing.”

Q: How has training gone during the first half of the winter?

Jake Libby: “I’ve just got a little groin injury. I played through it for most of the summer, so it’s something I was always going to try and rehab (this winter) and myself and Andy Powell are working on that to get me fit.

“I will build things up through January, and I will be all good come to the start of the season.”

Q: Have the two new signings settled in well, Adam Hose and Matthew Waite?

Jake Libby: “We knew Matthew from his loan spell here, and he is a great person, fitted in well, a down-to-earth, really lovely guy, who has already made his mark.

“With Adam, I knew a lot about what he was like as a cricketer, and he is also a nice guy. It is a great addition to the squad, as they both are and have fitted in seamlessly.”

Q: You are 30, do you feel you are approaching the best years of your career?

Jake Libby: “That is how I’ve felt the last few seasons. Generally, as a batter, I’ve always felt, and many people say this as well, that towards your 30s is when you are in your prime, and I’ve certainly thought I have been these last few years.

“I’m bang in the middle of it now. I feel I’m batting as well as I have done since I’ve been at Worcestershire. I didn’t score the number of runs I would have liked last year, but ultimately I was quite pleased with how my game was on the whole.

“I’m just looking forward to getting to the 30s now, being a more senior player and hopefully playing my part with the team and scoring my runs.”

Q: Do you enjoy that extra responsibility of being one of the senior professionals?

Jake Libby: “Absolutely. When I moved here, it was a young, ambitious, and hard-working squad.

“I enjoy the responsibility of being at the top of the order in red-ball cricket and helping lead the team off to a good start, and hopefully, I can continue to do that.”

Q: You had a different sort of opening partner in Ed Pollock to Daryl Mitchell. Ed certainly looked like he was adjusting to red-ball cricket as the season progressed? 

Jake Libby: “I think he got better and better, to be honest with you. We didn’t know exactly what to expect from him at the start of the year, but we knew what type of player he was.

“He was always going to be someone who would take the game to the bowlers and try and put pressure back on them.

“I think he did that really well, and towards the back end of the season, he found a really good measure between the two of attack and defence. 

“I think defensively he improved a heck of a lot as the season went on.

“In September, he played some real good innings, notably at Glamorgan and Sussex. He improved a lot. He was a different partner to Daryl, a club legend.

“But it’s also been good to open with Ed, and it’s something we will continue to work on in the future and positively.”

Q: He mentioned how he was controlling one of his favourite shots to a greater extent to deep square leg?

Jake Libby: “It is one of his favourite and strongest shots, but it’s something he has worked on, and he has done a really good job with that.

“It is just about adapting his game from white ball to red ball. It was his first full season of first-team red-ball cricket, and, on the whole, he will be relatively pleased, and it’s a good base to kick on again next year.”

Q: You didn’t quite get the same volume of runs in 2020 and 2021, but still averaged 35 opening, often in challenging conditions?

Jake Libby: “It wasn’t quite like the previous two years, but I wasn’t really unhappy with it. I felt like I still batted well, but sometimes, at the top of the order, the runs either come or they don’t.

“That is how it is. I’ve just gotten used to it over my career. Sometimes you get the big runs, and sometimes you don’t. The guys cashed in down the order last year, and that was pleasing to watch.

“Look, I wasn’t disappointed with my season. I would have liked to have scored more runs, but ultimately it was a good season, and I felt, as a team, we played some really good red-ball cricket.

“It was good to contribute to that, and the future looks bright.”

Q: You got a century at Derby and a double hundred at Hove?

Jake Libby: “It was nice to get the hundred at Derby, and I batted really well for that, and myself and Jack (Haynes) spent some good time together in the middle. 

“For me, the double hundred was really pleasing to tick that one off in my career.

“I cashed in down there, something I hadn’t done much of all year. After all the hard work I’d gone through and some low scores, it was a nice reward towards the end of the year.” 

Q: Daryl Mitchell used to say it could be ‘feast or famine’ as a batter at the top of the order. You could play the same shot, and one day you would nick it, and the next day miss it and go on to make a hundred?

Jake Libby: “That’s the nature of the beast at the top of the order. I’ve found that and I’ve not played as much as Daryl, but it is certainly the case when you go in first.

“You can get a string of low scores, some early morning starts, and it is tricky against the new ball, but it is important when you do get in, and Daryl was always one to say this, and get to 30 that you want to go big.

“It was pleasing to do that at Sussex and in previous years. I probably didn’t do that as well as I could have at times when I got past the new ball last year.

“That is something to learn from and hopefully improve on.”

Q: As a batting unit, 16 centuries were scored in the LV=Insurance County Championship, the best total for 16 years, and there was no reliance on one player?

Jake Libby: “Our batting is a really good strength of ours. We are fully aware of the numbers and said at the end of the season how pleasing that was.

“We’ve shown a real good progression in the batting department, as we have across all red-ball cricket, really.

“Everyone scored a hundred virtually in the top six-seven and then Gareth (Roderick) coming in during the second half of the season and doing what he did was really pleasing as well to see.

“Ed (Barnard) is going to be a big loss, but we’ve got players who can get a mountain of runs for us.”

Q: With people like Kashif Ali back fit and Matthew Waite and Adam Hose signing, there will be plenty of competition?

Jake Libby: “We’ve got loads of players who want to play in the first team, and particularly in that middle order there will be so much competition, and that’s great for us.

“It can only be healthy and keep improving us. Our batting was a strength anyway, and if you add those names into the mix, it will only add to it.

Q: The team came so close to winning on several occasions in red-ball cricket without quite getting over the line, sometimes because of weather intervention?

Jake Libby: “You can always look at a season and argue we got a bit of luck or not with the weather here and there, but on the whole, I think we showed an improvement.

“The points we are clocking up are increasing year after year. I thought we were a better team all-around last year, and particularly in September, we played some really good cricket.

“I think we can take a lot of confidence into next season from that. The all-round cricket we played, with bat and ball, was very encouraging.

“I thought we were really good with the ball in taking 20 wickets, and there would have been other games had the weather allowed us, and on some good batting surfaces as well.

We are really happy with where we are in red ball cricket. That is something which has improved, certainly, in the last three years I’ve been at the club.

“With the players, we’ve got and will have next season, it is hopefully only going to keep going up.”

Q: What personal goals have you got for the rest of your career?

Jake Libby: “I joined Worcestershire and it kind of reignited my career in terms of runs, and I’ve done well since I’ve been here.

“There is always the outside touch of international aspirations. I’m pushing 30 now, but you never know.

“I want to stay here at Worcestershire. I want to get into Division One. I think that is a really big aim for me.

“I’d love to play Division One cricket with Worcestershire, and I think this is a club capable of doing that with the players we’ve got.

“There is no reason, hopefully, next season, and the next couple of seasons, we really push for Division One.

“We want to play the best cricket we can, so ultimately winning trophies at this club is what any cricketer aspires to do.

“Particularly at this stage of my career, it probably turns more to team performances and trophies and trying to compete as high as I can rather than personal goals.

“At the end of your career, you will look back at personal highlights, and I will have plenty of them, but ultimately the days to remember will be the trophies and the success you have as a team.

“That is something I’m chomping at the bit to do, and it is something this group is capable of doing. We’ve made massive progress in red-ball cricket, and something we’ve got to put our name towards is getting promoted and competing at the top of Division Two.”

Q: There looks to be a good balance to squad?

Jake Libby: “It is a good balance. You’ve got your core players there who are mainly older, but the youngsters we’ve got coming through, there are so many of them, and it is really exciting. 

“Mitch Stanley last year accelerated from nowhere, and you’ve got Jack Haynes, Dillon Pennington, and Josh Tongue, who are already fantastic cricketers, but there is still more to come from them.

“It is exciting from a club point of view to see how far they can progress and see how far they can take the club over the next couple of years.

“That is why it is really exciting time. People like myself fit into the senior category, but at the end of the day, the youngsters coming through are what is going to drive this club, and I think there are a lot of them.”