Leach eager to grasp his first XI opportunity

JOE LEACH: Making a good impression.

JOE LEACH: Making a good impression.

First published in Sport

CAREER-best figures for Worcestershire bowlers are en vogue at the moment with Joe Leach becoming the third player in the space of three Championship games to set a new personal benchmark.

Gareth Andrew took 5-40 in the LV= County Championship Division Two draw at Glamorgan, before Saeed Ajmal returned his superb haul of 7-19 when Essex visited New Road.

Both of those efforts were new career-bests and all-rounder Leach then followed suit with 5-36 in the first innings of last week’s match with Kent on a flat and slow pitch at Tunbridge Wells.

“I was thrilled to get my first five-fer,” smiled Leach, who replaced the injured Gareth Andrew in the side. “I still can’t believe it to be honest.

“It cost me a few quid at the bar, but I’ll take that any day of the week. To have got Kent out for 258 on that pitch was a brilliant effort, but it was just so disappointing the weather had such a big say in the game.

“It is quite a high pressure environment for me to come into with the fact Gaz has been bowling out of his skin.

“To replace him, I’ve had to bowl well and thankfully I’ve done that. But with the mantra of keeping the runs down, I think that suits all three of us seamers. It suits our style of bowling.

“The ball swung, which helped. Maybe in the past I’ve had the ball quite late in an innings so maybe it hasn’t done that much for me.

“I’m really enjoying having the ball to bowl when it is a little bit harder. I’ve had that chance in the second team at the start of the season and I’m glad now I’ve had the backing to do that in the first team.”

Leach had a brief spell in the first XI at the end of last season, before returning to the seconds for the beginning of the current campaign.

However, as captain of the seconds this term, Leach has strung together some impressive performances, culminating in a first XI recall.

He added: “No-one likes playing second team cricket – if you do, you shouldn’t be playing professional sport. I was disappointed at the start of the season, and probably the end of last season to tail off.

“I love captaining the seconds. There is a bit of responsibility leading from the front – you are always thinking for other people and not just yourself.

“That has helped with the way I’ve approached my cricket as well. I’ve had to think about my own cricket a lot more.”


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