Worcestershire’s current Vice-Chairman Tim Curtis was one of a succession of fine opening batsman who have graced the County’s colours over many decades.
Don Kenyon, Alan Ormrod, Glenn Turner, Curtis himself and current incumbent Daryl Mitchell have been invaluable members of various Worcestershire teams in that role.
Curtis was part of the second ‘golden era’ team in Worcestershire’s history that won seven trophies in five years from 1987 to 1991 and also skippered them to glory at Lord’s in 1994.
He scored 20,155 first class runs for Worcestershire – the eighth highest tally in the club’s history – and only Graeme Hick amassed more than his 10,269 List A runs for the County.
Here Tim, now 57, looks back at some of the Worcestershire players in his times at Blackfinch New Road who have tackled one of the most demanding jobs in cricket in negotiating the new ball.
Tim, who won five England Test caps, also highlights the qualities of Mitchell and what it takes to blossom in the opening role in part one of a two part question and answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: Daryl Mitchell has had an excellent season. What are his qualities?
Tim Curtis: “What he has done this year is score hundreds in games we have won. You love it if you score runs in a game where you’ve actually made a contribution that wins the match.
“Other factors you need to take into account for an opening batsman is that a lot of the Championship games now are being played early season – April and May – and it’s always a bit fresh.
“Then there are also four matches in September as well with a 10.30am start when it is fresh again.
“If you are batting first, there is every chance as an opening bat, particularly in the first innings, that you are going to struggle to get scores.
“Daryl has said this himself, that he has got low scores but, when he has got in, he has gone on and got big scores, and it’s hundreds that win you matches.
“If someone gets a hundred, that means they have batted a long time, there are probably going to be a couple of partnerships in there and that means you are going to get a score that makes you competitive in a game.
“But he has done wonderfully well this season.”
Question: It is some achievement to average over 40 for more than decade, something you did for nearly 20 years.
Tim Curtis: “There are some places where you play, if you are averaging 40 you might be a little disappointed
“But, as an opening batter, at Worcester that is not the case.
“They always talk about the first hour here….on every ground, the first hour is fresh, but with the river here nearby, the tree-line, always a green outfield, the ball moves about here in the morning.
“It is a ground where it will swing so as an opening bat you’ve got to get through those periods and you know therefore there might be a few times where you struggle for runs and that might affect your confidence and form.”
Question: Over 10 years or more, you cannot dispute someone’s contribution?
Tim Curtis: “Absolutely. When someone puts down those stats across a period of time….I think the big differences between myself and Daryl is that he is playing four-day cricket all the time.
“Four-day cricket was coming in towards the end of my career and we might play six matches a year – three at the beginning of the season and three at the end, something like that.
“They brought with them a different sort of pressure. When you played three-day cricket, you knew that your next knock was not going to be very far away.
“In four-day cricket, it’s not like that and also in three-day cricket, you’d get the odd knock where someone would throw you a few runs to set up a declaration so you could always massage the statistics a little bit sometimes.
“Four-day cricket generally speaking, every knock is crucial and that brings with it that extra pressure so I think he has done brilliantly.”
*Read part two of our interview with Tim Curtis on the Worcestershire CCC website during the next few days.