Brief scores: Worcestershire 309 for 3 (Libby 142*, D’Oliveira 123*) vs Glamorgan ( Hogan 3/43)
Twin centuries from Jake Libby and Brett D’Oliveira headlined Worcestershire’s dominant display on day one, finishing on 309-3 against Glamorgan at New Road in the Bob Willis Trophy.
Worcestershire elected to bat first with pacer Dillon Pennington replacing seamer Josh Tongue being the only change. As for the visitors, Netherlands international Timm van der Gugten returned from an ankle injury to replace Ruaidhri Smith while bolstering their batting depth with Tom Cullen at the expense of fast bowler Merchant de Lange.
Worcestershire’s decision to bat first raised a few eyebrows after veteran Glamorgan paceman Michael Hogan drew first blood in the opening over of the day with Worcestershire opener Daryl Mitchell (0) edging the ball through to the keeper down the leg-side. Hogan struck again to reduce the home side to 22/2 after skipper Cooke dove full length to snaffle a leading edge off the willow of Tom Fell (8).
Jack Haynes (21) batted well with Libby to restore some stability but eventually fell pulling Hogan to fine-leg where Dan Douthwaite completed a well-judged catch. At the fall of the third wicket with 70 on board, it looked as if Glamorgan would emulate their bowling heroics from their game against Somerset at Taunton earlier this week having reduced them to 149-8.
However, such premonitions were buried deep with the pitch playing its natural course, the kind of surface either teams are more than familiar with in Division Two.
Resuming on 77/3 after lunch, Libby was given a reprieve off van der Gugten and shortly brought up his fifty off 94 balls with a straight drive off the Dutchman. Off-spinner Kieran Bull returned to the attack at the Diglis End and found reasonable turn with the old ball but the Worcestershire duo took a liking to him with Libby punching him through extra cover for a brace of boundaries to bring up the fifty partnership.
Van der Gugten and Douthwaite bowled laboriously under the sun on a pitch offering little for the bowlers by maintaining a probing and an aggressive line. D’Oliveira brought up his half century for Worcestershire off 78 balls as well as the hundred partnership off 154 balls after he drove Bull through the covers.
Worcestershire enjoyed a wicketless session with Libby and D’Oliveira adding 111 runs and resumed post-Tea unbeaten on 85 and 63 respectively. Worcestershire's decision to bat first was further vindicated when the home side brought up 250 in the 77th over securing their second batting point.
Libby, D'Oliveira put Worcestershire in command
Former Nottinghamshire batsman Libby soon brought up his maiden first-class century for Worcestershire- his sixth overall- by square-cutting Bull, reinforcing the fine impression made by his sublime knock off 77 at Bristol last week. D’Oliveira appeared to be the aggressive of the two and continued to pull and cut Douthwaite and Hogan, who toiled hard in search of his 600th first-class victim.
D’Oliveira reached his century off 183 balls with a quick double off Hogan, only for it to fetch four more through overthrows. His knock consisted of 14 boundaries and a solitary six. Left-arm seamer Graham Wagg bowled the final over of the day after Glamorgan opted take the new ball at the end of 90 overs. Worcestershire ended the day at 309/3 having firmly consolidated their position in the game fetching three batting points.
Libby, later speaking to BBC Hereford and Worcester, said he was pleased with his knock and spoke highly of his partner D’Oliveira.
"It's emotional because I've had a tough couple of years, so on a personal note it's great to get the hundred and for the team it's been a fantastic day. Great to bat with Brett (D’Oliveira) and a special moment for both of us.
“I was a bit disappointed at Bristol (scoring 77) not to go on to get the hundred, but today was a good pitch to bat on and I cashed in. We were three down for 70 and a bit on the back foot, but to bat the whole day with 'Dolly' was fantastic. He's batted really well and we've moved at a good rate.
"It felt like we'd been practising for ages (pre-season), it's great to be back playing some cricket and a lot of people have done well to get us on the park."
Glamorgan assistant coach David Harrison, speaking to BBC Sports Wales, remained optimistic about his side’s chances while also appreciating the Worcestershire pair. "We stuck to it on a different style of pitch to the one we had at Taunton. The boys bowled well through the day but we had them three down and then missed a chance to make it 70-odd for four. Fair play to Libby and D'Oliveira, they batted really well but I can't fault the boys' efforts on a good wicket.
He further added, “It was a fantastic effort from Michael Hogan, he's been a high-class bowler since he's joined Glamorgan and has led the attack brilliantly for the last seven or eight years. Hopefully he'll come back in the morning and get his 600th first-class wicket,
"It's a little bit different with the restriction to 120 overs. Hopefully we can get a couple of wickets early and stop the run rate, then it's a good wicket for us to bat on."