Marathon batting star Jake Libby believes Worcestershire CCC can take massive confidence from their performance against reigning champions Essex and says competing with the top teams is “where we want to be as a club and are striving towards.”
Libby batted for the best part of 12 hours in carrying his bat for a superb 180 not out as the batsmen matched the County attack’s performance in showing great discipline and application to earn a deserved draw.
It means that in his opening ten first-class innings for Worcestershire, Libby has scored 678 runs at an average of 75.33.
Now Worcestershire will look to build on their positive start when they take on Derbyshire at Derby in another LV=Insurance County Championship fixture starting on Thursday (April 15).
Libby said: “Going down to Essex, for the first game of the season, against the champions, and probably currently the best team in the country, was always going to be a tough challenge.
“But this was a positive performance from the group moving forward – and it’s really exciting times.
“They are a very tough team to beat, and so to stick our chest out a bit and show we were up for the fight and compete with these top teams, that’s where we want to be as a Club, and that’s what we are striving towards.
“For a first game, it was an excellent performance from us, and we will take a lot of confidence.”
Libby was full of praise for how the bowling attack kept the Essex batsmen under control and conceded only three runs an over.
He said: “That says a lot about where this group is at, to be honest. I think that spell with the ball, where we kept them under three runs an over, gave us that bit of extra respite in the game, which meant we didn’t have to bat as long.
“It gave us more chance to save the game, and our bowlers bowled brilliantly. There were some tired bodies, and to keep coming back and being so disciplined was brilliant.
“We backed it up in the field, and Joe (Leach) led us well as captain, and then Riki (Wessels), Ed (Barnard) with a so well deserved first hundred and Dillon (Pennington) with his first fifty did brilliantly with the bat.
“For a first game, it was an outstanding performance from us. We will travel with a lot of confidence (to Derby) and looking forward to it, and hopefully, we can take another positive result from there.”
Libby was on the pitch for every minute of the four days at Chelmsford and had already fielded for nearly two days when he launched his innings late on the second evening.
“He said: “I was a bit stiff the following day after the game! It was a pleasing achievement personally, and in the context of the game, in terms of where we were after their first innings and then being 40-3.
“But I got into a good mindset and the context of the game, the fact we needed to bat for so long, gave me that extra motivation to keep batting and keep going because really up until lunch on day four, I don’t think the game was really safe for us.
“We didn’t know what the wicket was going to do. It could have deteriorated, and Simon Harmer could have had a good final day. We had to keep grinding away.
“We worked so hard with the ball and did such a good job there in keeping the run rate down that we didn’t want to throw it away on day four after all the hard work we had done.
“On that pitch, once you got in and the ball got a bit older, it was certainly a lot easier, and it flattened out quite a bit.
“It is more mentally in those circumstances, concentration and keep focusing ball after ball, but I’ve worked hard on my fitness over the winter. It was one of my better knocks in the context of the game.”