Up until his immediate departure from the Club was announced on 14 October, Worcestershire’s Head Coach, Alex Gidman, was doing his best to put a positive spin on the Club’s 2022 performances.: “Our whole season has been very encouraging and very competitive,” he said. Others may have taken a slightly more downbeat view, for the Club finished bottom after the group stages of both the Vitality Blast and the Royal London One Day Cup. Fourth place in the LV= County Championship was a better result; but the four victories in that competition were a couple short of what would have been needed for promotion.
Gidman’s further statement that “even the games we lost we could have won” falls into the same category as “if my grandmother had wheels she would have been a bike”. But, to be fair to the departing Coach, despite the lack of team success, there were some encouraging individual performances.
In the Championship, Gareth Roderick, Ed Barnard and Brett D’Oliveira all averaged over 50. Jack Haynes scored over 800 runs and three others (Jake Libby, Ed Pollock and Azhar Ali) topped 500. In the bowling department, Dillon Pennington and Joe Leach took almost 80 wickets between them at around 22 apiece. The support bowling was less convincing, especially in the spin department where Josh Baker and D’Oliveira both struggled to take wickets.
In the Blast, D’Oliveira put in some effective all round performances. But he and Barnard were the only two ever-presents and there were too many who struggled to justify their place in the eleven. Even Moeen Ali failed to make much impact in the seven games that he played.
In the Royal London Cup, the team produced plenty of runs but struggled to contain the opposition. Ben Cox, Jake Libby and Ed Barnard all scored well. But no-one averaged under 35 with the ball and the team three times conceded over 300.
LV= CC: fourth in Division Two
Vitality Blast: bottom in North Group
RLODC: bottom in Group B
LV= CC: Ed Barnard – 895 runs at 74.50
Vitality Blast: Colin Munro – 323 runs at 26.91, strike rate 132.92
RLODC: Jake Libby – 332 runs at 66.40
LV= CC: Dillon Pennington, 44 wickets at 22.63
Vitality Blast: Pat Brown: 14 wickets at 27.21, economy rate 9.85
RLODC: Dillon Pennington: 10 wickets at 38.20
Player of the season:
Let us not argue with the decisions that were announced at the Club’s end-of-season dinner, where Ed Barnard picked up three trophies. He was voted the Worcestershire Supporters’ Association Player of the Year and Worcestershire Players’ Player of the Year as well as winning the Worcestershire Cricket Society Moment Of The Season Award for his unbeaten 163 versus Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
He has been showing his potential for some time; but Dillon Pennington, with 60 wickets in all competitions, became a key member of the Worcestershire team in 2022. A lively fast-medium bowler with a strong physique, he still has time, at age 23, to make a further step up to international level.
Could have done better:
It has been sad to see the struggles for form and fitness of Pat Brown over the last couple of years. He has had to overcome a stress fracture of the back as well as mental wellness issues that led to a major loss of confidence. Although he took wickets in the Blast, he conceded runs at almost 10 an over. A stint in the Hundred with Oval Invincibles led to just one unsuccessful outing. Although still only 24, his England T20 days seem far behind him now. All who have witnessed his decline will hope that he can revive his career in 2023.
Need to work on
Worcestershire’s dire form in white ball cricket must be of concern to all within the Club. When they won the Blast title in 2018, it was clear that, though they had a lot of individual talent, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Getting back to that situation must be a top priority for the coaching staff.
Before Alex Gidman’s departure, it was known that Worcestershire were seeking to appoint a Director of Cricket to take overall control of all playing matters. He (or she) will have to deal with the fact that both Moeen Ali and Ed Barnard have left to join Warwickshire. Matthew Waite looks to be a good signing from Yorkshire. He will be expected to step into Barnard’s all rounder shoes. But for the Club to challenge for honours ,there will need to be either some further signings or some major advances from amongst the talented pool of younger players.
Falling short of a promotion challenge in the Championship and propping up the group tables in the two white ball competitions represents a dismal season for the Pears. Surely things can only get better! Mark: 3/10