Sunday, June 25th, 2023


Worcestershire opener Jake Libby continued his rich vein of form and debutant Navdeep Saini and Dillon Pennington made an instant impact with the ball on the opening day of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Derbyshire at New Road.

Libby had scored 198 and 97 in the previous Championship match against Sussex at the 1st Central County Ground and today top-scored with a resolute 78 after he had chosen to bat when captaining the side in place of Brett D’Oliveira (illness).

He defied the Derbyshire attack for four hours and struck eight fours in his 187 ball knock.

Libby is now the third highest scorer in Division Two this summer with 614 runs at an average of 61.40.

The 30-year-old shared in an opening stand of 70 with Gareth Roderick and 54 for the fourth wicket with Adam Hose.

But Derbyshire stuck to their task and Anuj Dal (5-45) was largely responsible for dismissing Worcestershire for 237 in 83.3 overs.

Worcestershire handed a debut to Academy product, batter Rehaan Edavalath, and Indian pace bowler Saini who instantly made his mark when Derbyshire launched their reply by dismissing Harry Came.

With Dillon Pennington accounting for Luis Reece from the final delivery of the day, Worcestershire ended on a high.

Spinner Josh Baker was brought in for his first senior appearance since suffering a stress fracture of the back last July.

There was a reshuffle to the side in the absence of D’Oliveira and Jack Haynes and Kashif Ali (both knee) and a total of five changes from the Sussex game.

Derbyshire were also beset by injuries, to bowlers Saranga Lakmal,  Zak Chappell and Sam Conners and signed Surrey seamer Conor McKerr on loan.

Libby and Roderick scored freely against the Kookaburra ball which is being used during the next two rounds of Championship matches.

The pair profited from the cut shot and clip through mid wicket and in addition Roderick cover drove Potts for two boundaries in an over.

Libby and Roderick completed their third successive half century stand since joining forces at the top of the order in the previous Championship game against Sussex.

The partnership was worth 70 when Roderick (40) was bowled through the gate by Ben Aitchison with a delivery that nipped back.

Azhar Ali (14) was dismissed to the final delivery before lunch when he drove at Anuj Dal and was caught at slip.

Libby was unbeaten on 45 from 93 balls with seven boundaries at the interval.

Edavalath came out for his maiden innings at the start of the afternoon session but was was lbw to Dal for nought from the third ball he faced.

Libby completed an excellent half century from 106 balls with a push through the covers for two off Dal who bowled a 10 over spell either side of lunch of 10-2-32-2.

Hose has been in prime form in both Championship and T20- cricket and he again looked in good touch.

He twice cover drove Ben Aitchison to the ropes and helped Libby add 54 in untroubled fashion.

But then Hose on 28 edged Potts to slip and Libby’s fine knock was brought to an end by Dal with keeper Brooke Guest holding onto the chance.

Ed Pollock, who was recalled to the Championship side, got his head down but on 13 was dismissed to the last ball before tea when he shouldered arms to Dal and was bowled.

Matthew Waite showed positive intent after the interval, striking Ben Aitchison for three boundaries in the first over to bring up the 200.

But he was bowled on 19 by a delivery from McKerr which nipped back a long way.

Joe Leach (3) clipped McKerr into the hands of mid wicket, Baker (12) pushed forward to Luis Reece and was bowled while Dillon Pennington (18) suffered the same fate against Dal.

Saini’s first delivery was right on the spot and angled in to Came who offered no strike and Reece found the safe hands of Pollock at first slip after he nicked a Pennington delivery.

Libby said: “Honours just about even? I would say so. We will be a little disappointed with the bat. We would have liked to have squeezed a few more runs.

“It is quite a slow, turgid deck and was quite tough to score runs on it so our score is probably a bit more than what it looks like on the scoreboard.

“We bowled brilliantly this evening to get two wickets and the game is poised nicely.

“I felt the new ball was the best time to bat. It came on nicely. It did get soft after about 25 overs, it became slower, they set straight fields, and it was quite hard work after that.

“With the start we made, it was a shame we couldn’t cash in a bit more. Adam Hose came in and batted really well and our partnership was going well.

“We just lost wickets at the wrong time today to stop us getting a really big score but we are in the game and hopefully we can bowl well in the morning.

“The pitch hasn’t done a lot sideways. A little bit in the air to start with. Anuj Dal bowled really well, smashed off stump with his line all day and got his rewards and that’s what we’ve got to learn from and hopefully we can replicate that as well.”