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Worcestershire ultimately triumph after Dan Ibrahim shines again

Jake Libby overtook David Bedingham to become the leading run-scorer in the LV=Insurance County Championship this summer as Worcestershire chased down a 315 target against Sussex at New Road.

Libby scored his fourth Championship century of the campaign and he overhauled the 945 run tally of Bedingham who was not in action because Durham’s game against Surrey was called off because of COVID-19.

He finished unbeaten on 125 and now has a total of 951 runs and the former Nottinghamshire batsman received excellent support from Jack Haynes, Ben Cox and Brett D’Oliveira as Worcestershire triumphed by six wickets with 24 balls to spare.

Worcestershire picked 20 points to emerge as the early pace-setters in Group Three. But they were pushed all the way by a young Sussex side containing no capped players and with an average age of nineteen and a half and showing great potential.

Sussex resumed on 199-6 and the last four wickets went down for 64 runs in 15.5 overs. Adam Finch made the first breakthrough when Archie Lenham, nine, went for a pull and top-edged a head high catch to keeper Cox.

Finch struck again when Jack Carson on seven aimed a blow on the leg side and Josh Baker pulled off a fine low catch after running in from deep square leg. Dillon Pennington came into the attack and soon accounted for Henry Crocombe ,six, who was caught off a leading edge by Ed Barnard at cover.

Dan Ibrahim went within six runs of becoming the youngest century-maker in the history of County Championship cricket before falling to Worcestershire Club Captain, Joe Leach. The 17-year-old tried to hook Leach but only gloved through to Cox.

When Worcestershire launched their reply, Daryl Mitchell and Libby put on 39 until the former on 19 was bowled by a delivery from Crocombe to the last ball before lunch. Tom Fell, four, survived one chance behind the wicket before he was caught on four of a top edge at mid wicket attempting to pull Crocombe.

Haynes joined Libby and the third wicket pair consolidated Worcestershire’s position. Libby reached his half century off 121 balls with five fours and Worcestershire went into tea on 129-2, requiring a further 186 off 34 overs in the final session.

An excellent half century was completed by Haynes from 83 deliveries with six boundaries. But Hudson-Prentice ended the partnership on 105 when Haynes was caught and bowled for 62.

Libby went into overdrive with 6-4-4- off successive balls from Crocombe and Cox, promoted up the order, also scored freely. 

A single off James Coles took Libby to three figures off 190 balls with one six and eight fours. Cox (37) holed out to long on off Lenham to end a stand of 86 in 18 overs with Libby. But D’Oliveira ensured the momentum was maintained and successive sixes off Hudson-Prentice enabled him to complete a 26 ball fifty.

Sussex captain Tom Haines said: “I couldn’t have asked for more from the boys over these four days.  We weren’t on the right side of the result but we pushed this side all the way to the very final session on the fourth day and we can be very proud of that.

“We spoke every morning about being the youngest side to win a game because we are not just here to play, we are here to win. We didn’t quite do it but we put in 100 per cent effort in all four days and I couldn’t have asked for any more.

“We had a few chances early on with the new ball where if they go to hand, then all of a sudden there could be a collapse and a panic and we end up winning the game. Libby batted really well and held their innings together and a couple of players played around him very nicely as well.

“We learnt so much from two defeats in the 50 over competition where we were so close to winning and it’s the same now and I definitely next year we are going to use these feelings we’ve got now and put them right next year and we will end up on the winning side and be a really strong unit.”

Worcestershire CCC Head Coach, Alex Gidman, said: “Obviously really pleased for the lads to get the victory and for the club to get the victory. It’s been a little while since we played Championship cricket and delighted for everyone that we got that over the line.

“A good game of credit and full credit to Sussex. They have some extremely talented and very good young players. They were really competitive which made for a really good game. It ebbed and flowed. We had opportunities to press home our advantage a little bit more than we did at times but again, credit to Sussex for pulling us back, and equally they will probably feel the same.

“It was a great cricket wicket and credit to Tim Packwood (Head Groundsmen) and the groundstaff and thankfully the light improved enough for us to complete the game.

“Jake Libby is a class act and just getting better and better. We felt throughout the whole game it was a new ball wicket and it was challenging for both teams. It was really hard work and I was quite grateful that they couldn’t have a second new ball today. That could have been telling if that had been part of the plan.

“Jake constructed the chase really, really well, the tempo was superb and he understood and got the timing right as to when to just put a bit more pressure on them and a couple of guys played extremely well around him.

“Jack (Haynes) was superb and Brett (D’Oliveira) there at the end, a little cameo which we always knew we would probably need at some stage. I just thought they showed real maturity and good experience and real good quality and composure to get us over the line”

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