Libby double-hundred enables Worcestershire to push for victory at sodden Hove

Sussex 220 and 39 for 1 trail Worcestershire 438 for 5 (Libby 215) lead by 179 runs

Opener Jake Libby made a career-best 215 as Worcestershire put themselves in position to push for victory over Sussex and keep their promotion hopes alive in the LV= Insurance County Championship. Libby’s maiden double-century came in a total of 438 for 5 before Worcestershire declared with a lead of 218 on day three at the 1st Central County Ground, having banked maximum bonus points.

Play didn’t start at Hove until 4.10pm because of rain and 84 overs have been lost in the match so far but Worcestershire quickly made up for lost time, Libby leading the charge as they thrashed 149 in 20 overs against some toothless bowling before the declaration.

Sussex were left with ten overs to negotiate, and they lost skipper Tom Haines for 13 in the penultimate over when he played on to Joe Leach. They closed on 39 for 1, still 179 behind.

Sussex had taken the new ball when play eventually began after heavy rain but it was soon being dispatched to all parts by Libby and Jack Haynes. Pakistan allrounder Faheem Ashraf came in for some harsh treatment, his three overs costing 30 runs including three successive boundaries by Libby which took him past his previous best score of 184.

He added 96 in 22 overs with Haynes, who played on to Brad Currie for 31, but skipper Brett D’Oliveira kept up the momentum when he joined Libby. D’Oliveira offered a difficult chance off a top-edged pull but Ali Orr, running round the boundary, couldn’t quite hold on as he stepped over the rope. Otherwise, the pair scored at more than seven runs an over even though Sussex had seven fielders on the boundary.

Libby brought up his 200 with a single off James Coles and offered his first chance on 204, but wicketkeeper Oli Carter spilled a straightforward opportunity moving to his right. Libby was eventually dismissed by Coles shaping to cut, having faced 294 balls, hit 25 fours and a six in a highly impressive innings spanning six hours, 38 minutes spread over three days.

It was his team’s second double-hundred of this season following Azhar Ali’s 235 against Leicestershire in May and the highest score by a Worcestershire batter against Sussex, beating Graeme Hick’s 186 at Hove in 1991. The declaration came when Ashraf had D’Oliveira, whose 43 off 38 balls included two sixes, was caught behind for 43.

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