Sunday, March 12th, 2023


Worcestershire opener Ed Pollock is striving to build on the range of experiences he encountered during his full first season of LV=Insurance County Championship cricket heading into the 2023 campaign.

Pollock scored two Championship centuries – including a superb match-winning effort against Middlesex at Merchant Taylor’s School – and a 98.

He played in 13 of the 14 four-day games and only missed the away match at Durham in mid-June through illness.

It was a challenge to cope with the new ball at senior level in four-day cricket for the first time, and Pollock ended the summer with 645 runs at an average of 32.25.

The 27-year-old was part of a strong batting unit in the Championship which totalled 16 centuries – the best tally by Worcestershire in a season for 16 years.

Pollock worked with Kadeer Ali on tightening up his technique during the latter part of the season and was able to trust more the defensive side of his game without losing the ability to cash in on the loose deliveries he faced.

He also came to terms with the mental side of the game and the importance of staying level-headed through the highs and the lows.

He said: “There were some positive signs in Championship cricket. If I had been offered two hundreds and a 98 at the start of my first full season of red-ball cricket, I’d probably have taken it.

“That was the unknown quantity for me coming in. Obviously, I would have liked to have kicked on more.

“But all in all, it was great to get my teeth stuck into Championship cricket and seeing what it is really all about after having spent a long time playing red ball second-team cricket.

“I’d been used to dipping in and out of first-team cricket and that kind of intensity, and it was about learning how long those four days can be, how you can ride the wave.

“It was about not being too low when you get a low score, just working your way through it. I learnt a lot more about the tactical and mental side of things, staying level with the game. There is so much stuff out of your control.

“There are certain technical elements I tightened up towards the back end of the season, which is when I started to bat for longer periods of time after some work I did with Kadeer in the nets. It just highlighted a few things I needed to work on.”

Pollock says his two centuries and the 98 all meant something special to him for different reasons.

He said: “Getting a century on debut against Leicestershire stands out because for six years when at Warwickshire I thought I could do it (play Championship cricket), but you never know until you have done it.

“The Middlesex hundred as well stands out as well, and what keeps me going through a run of low scores is that I’m capable of those sorts of performances.

“I had a poor T20 and, coming into that game, I played a Birmingham Premier League game (Barnt Green versus Smethwick) against Kadeer and scored some runs (158)

“I remember saying to Kadeer and Joe Leach before the second innings against Middlesex ‘this is perfectly set up for me, the pitch is going up and down, there is a lot of value to be positive here.’

“One went over the slips, one just over third man, and it was my day, and I just tried to make sure I cashed in. That is the one I look back very fondly on.

“The Sussex knock for different reasons again was important after I’d done a month’s work with Kadeer in the nets.

“We’d established that a lot of my dismissals were coming from a similar method, so we went into the nets and kept working on it.

“The game before at Glamorgan, there were some positive signs, and it meant my technique was a lot more compact, and I could trust myself more to keep out the bowler’s best deliveries.

“Because I’d had some low scores, I really wanted that hundred too much at Sussex, and I fell into the trap when I got out, trying to force a shot I didn’t need to.

“All for different reasons, the three big scores stand out.”

Pollock added: “Have I now got that right balance between defence and attack? It’s finding that balance. Especially being an opening batter in red-ball cricket, I really started to trust my defence by the end of the season.

“Towards the start of the year, I felt there was always the need to be positive because there was a ball in there that might get me out.

“Towards the back end of the season, through the work I had done with Kadeer, I trusted myself to just bat, that I could keep out those good balls and cash in on the ones that were there to hit.

“Then it’s a case of recognising the moments, like the Middlesex game, where I can put my foot on the accelerator or like the Leicestershire game where it was set up for me to be a bit more positive.

“A lot of it comes down to trust. I trust myself a lot more now to keep out the good balls, get through the sticky periods, to know it will get easier.

“With the Sussex game, I think I only started to click into feeling alright out there after 100 balls in the middle.

“It’s just maturing in your game. Previously I’d have been thinking ‘something is not right’ whereas I was thinking ‘keep going, keep going’ and after getting 100 balls in, I got the next 40 runs off about 24 balls.”

The life of an opening batter means you can play a perfectly sound defensive shot but still be dismissed by a delivery that nips off the seam.

Pollock said: “Myself and Jake Libby had a chat about as an opening batter that you are going to have those low scores. You just have to cash in when you get in.

“The perfect example was at Sussex when Jake got a double hundred. There is a certain amount of acceptance you have to learn and moving on.

“With the way I play, I tend to be a bit more up and down with performance which makes it even more important for me to be level-headed.

“I wouldn’t say I get very high when it goes well, but occasionally, when it’s not going well, I have been scrambling around going ‘what going on here.’

“I had a chat with the coaches about the need to be a lot more consistent in my technique and game and also in myself. Throughout a four-day game, a campaign, if you can stay very consistent as a person rather than riding that wave of performance, it will be important.”

Pollock is determined to try and produce this summer the form he has shown in white ball cricket on many occasions in the past after a challenging 2022.

He said: “I was surprised by how it went because I started the Championship season well and I’d been seeing the ball nicely.

“I started alright without being amazing. I then missed a period through illness and, without making excuses, I was a bit off the pace.

“I was a bit surprised and maybe I tried too hard, like ‘I’ve been signed to do this, this is what I can do.’

“I’ve put in a lot of work this winter, put myself in those pressure situations, to remember how I go about it.

“There is not that much difference between my red and white ball game and that has helped me.”

So what are Pollock’s individual targets as the new campaign approaches?

He said: “That general message of general consistency within myself, within technique, within scores.

“But I do talk to Brett (D’Oliveira) about this – and we both would love a T20 hundred.

“Two little things I’d would to tick off are a T20 hundred and a Championship double hundred. I’ve not generally set markets for scoring ‘X’ number of runs or averaging this.

“If I can be as consistent as I can within myself and just keep enjoying it, that will stand me in best stead for the whole season.”