Three years ago Joe Leach announced himself as a fully-fledged Worcestershire player with 82 not out and 114 against Gloucestershire at the Cheltenham Festival. He looked at home in the number six role and his bowling contribution in that game was just three overs out of a possible 147.
We’ve worked a little bit together, doing things here and there, but basically it’s been down to his hard work and desire to succeed.Matt Mason
Although he was showing some promise in that department, it would have been perfectly fair at that stage of Leach’s career to bracket him as a batting all-rounder. Now, as Worcestershire prepare to face the same opposition at New Road in Sunday’s Specsavers County Championship clash, Leach’s role has changed considerably and to great effect.
He is one of their regular new ball bowlers and has not stopped taking wickets since Gareth Andrew’s back injury gave him a chance to cement a spot in the side four games into the 2014 campaign.
This week’s career best match figures of 9-109 – after a return of 0-82 on the opening day – in the dramatic win over Leicestershire at the Fischer County Ground took his Championship wicket tally to 116 in just over two seasons.
Leach was voted Worcestershire’s Players’ Player of The Year last summer after taking 59 Championship wickets and already has 24 more to his name in this campaign.
He also earned praise from England assistant coach Paul Farbrace last winter when acting as a net bowler Down Under as part of the preparations for the Tri-Series with hosts Australia and India.
Worcestershire bowling coach-assistant coach Matt Mason has overseen Leach’s development with the ball but gives the majority of the credit to the Stafford-born player.
“Joe wears his heart on his sleeve and has got this absolute desire to be the best he can” said Mason,
“You think where he was three years ago, but that’s down to nothing more than absolute hard work and self-belief from Joe. We’ve worked a little bit together, doing things here and there, but basically it’s been down to his hard work and desire to succeed. He is very ambitious.”
It was a hell of a run last season but we are a proper side in that format of the game.Joe Leach
Leach has also made a flying start for the Rapids in the NatWest T20 Blast with five wickets in last week’s win over Durham Jets. The Rapids will now be looking for a rare victory over local rivals Birmingham Bears in Friday night’s clash at Edgbaston which is live on Sky Sports.But they have won their last six away games in the competition since losing to the Bears 12 months ago on their own turf.
Reflecting on last season Joe Leach said: “It was a hell of a run last season but we are a proper side in that format of the game. I’ve said in the past about us being considered ‘little brother’ and ‘minnows’ but our record in that format of the game speaks for itself. Teams recognise we are a very good side in that format of the game. I don’t think we are a surprise factor for other teams anymore.”
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