County Championship 2021: Worcestershire Preview

What Happened Last Year?

Worcestershire took home an accomplished second last year in their Bob Willis Trophy Central Group. They achieved pretty comfortable wins away from home in the first and third games, first against Gloucestershire, and then v Northants.

However, a high-scoring game v Glamorgan saw Worcs run out of time, with a late-ish declaration seeing them unable to take the 10 wickets required in just over 50 overs. And against Warwickshire, it was the rain washing out all of Day 4, in a match that appeared to be heading for a draw anyway.

The final game was against eventual BWT defeated finalists Somerset, who took home a 60 run-win, thanks to some excellent seam bowling.

All in all, a decent season for Worcestershire, with Jake Libby, Brett D'Oliveira, Tom Fell and veteran Daryl Mitchell all impressing with bat, as did Ed Barnard, Joe Leach, Josh Tongue and Charlie Morris with the ball.

Key Player for 2021

A difficult one this, given the wide range of talent on disposal for Worcestershire, but I think bowling all-rounder Ed Barnard could be crucial. He has 205 wickets in 65 first-class games at an average of 26.71, with twelve fifties along with that.

Although he hardly set the world alight with his 21 batting average last year, his 18 wickets came at a brilliant 21.66, and given Worcs' solid line-up, his performance with the ball, and in the lower order, should be crucial.

It'll also be interesting to see whether D'Oliveira can maintain his good form from last year, as his average of 52.42 represented an impressive year for him, and boosted Worcs' batting no end.

England hopeful

This will be pretty obvious, given I didn't mention him above, but Jake Libby is right-up there with a chance for England. The 28 year-old's F/C average of 31.03 doesn't set the world alight, but his maiden season at New Road proved highly successful.

With 498 runs in nine innings, he finished second only to Sir Alastair Cook in the leading-run scorers list for the BWT, with his 184, and three fifties coming at the average of 55.33. Should he maintain that solid form for the 2021 season, he could be the next cab into the opening rank for England.

I'd also recommend you keep on eye on youngster Josh Tongue. For just 23, he bowls at a quick lick, and grabbed 14 wickets at 25.92 last year, having taken 47 at 25.78 in his debut season of 2017, 40 at 25.27 in 2018, and 17 at 18.94 in 2019, before injury ruined his season. Having been around the Lions squad for a bit, he may well be on the plane to Australia as a back-up quick.

The Target for this Year?

Worcestershire are in a group with new sides this year, after the Covid-forced re-scheduling, which you can read about here.

This means that Worcs are in a group with Derbyshire, Essex, Durham, Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire.

They should fancy themselves against Durham, but will likely struggle against Essex. Notts haven't won in two years, but showed good signs last year, and Derbyshire proved the surprise package, so could be a threat. Warwickshire look to be coming out of transition quite well.

These three sides will be interesting challenges for Worcs, and will decide if they can challenge at the top, or if they'll be at the bottom.

While Ben Dwarshuis has been confirmed for the Blast an F/C overseas player is yet to be confirmed, possibly a spinner...

Predicted Finish: 4th in Group One


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