Monday, September 5th, 2016

Worcs Opener Westbury Relishes Spending Time In The Middle

Worcs Opener Westbury Relishes Spending Time In The Middle

Worcestershire have been blessed with openers who like to occupy the crease, bat for long periods and accumulate bucketfuls of runs with Tim Curtis and Daryl Mitchell admirable examples of that trait during the past few decades.

Curtis was a major component in the second golden age of the County from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s.

Mitchell has often been the glue which has stuck the Worcestershire batting line-up together for approaching 10 years and he recently passed 10,000 first class runs.

The pair have also been effective in limited overs cricket as well, with the Curtis-Ian Botham partnership key in the Sunday League success, and Mitchell showing his ability to adapt in Worcestershire's improved T20 and 50 over form of recent times.

But now another potential candidate with the kind of mentality to bat all day long is emerging in Academy product Ollie Westbury who simply just relishes occupying the crease it what feels like a throwback to another era.

He has already shown a wider audience his powers of concentration in batting for the best part of eight hours in making 196 for England Under-19s on his debut in the first Test against Sri Lanka Under-19s at Fenners last month.

But there had already been plenty of other examples at various County levels of Westbury's ability to stay in the middle and amass big scores and he was rewarded with his first professional contract at New Road.

He said: "I suppose when you look at the shots people play, I wouldn't be described as someone with the most talent in terms of stroke-making ability.

"But being able to bat for long periods of time with good technique, leaving the ball well, and waiting for people to bowl to my strengths, is something I love to do, is something I'm good at, so I just play to my super strengths.

"Where do I get this mentality from? I don't know really know to be honest. it is just something that has evolved over time .

"It is just the hunger to score runs and knowing I maybe am a little bit limited through the offside so then I'll leave and leave and leave the ball until they bowl straight at me.

"I've only really recently started playing the longer form of the game in the last year and a bit and when I got my first second team hundred (at Nottingham) that wasn't necessarily achieved like that.

"I scored a lot of runs all around the wicket. That was a reasonably quick 100, something like 140 balls. I can play the other way as well but in the four-day game I don't see the need to do so – so I don't."

Westbury's approach is all the more admirable in a young player given the amount of T20 and 50 over cricket in the modern day fixture list.

He said: "You look at today, there are a lot of shots played by batsmen. You look at one-day games now, and teams get up to 300 and 350.

"When I was five or six and growing up, really 300 was a rarity. Now if you don't get 300, you don't win normally so you can tell the one-day form of the game is evolving.

"At times that might creep into a player's four-day cricket.

"They feel the need to dominate and sometimes the game doesn't allow you to dominate because the wickets are green, the ball can swing and seam and sometimes the bowlers are allowed to have a good day and you have to adjust.

"Thankfully I am quite good at that."

*Read a full interview with Ollie Westbury on the Worcestershire CCC website during the new few days.