Leach is mak­ing no ex­cuses for young charges next term

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS & VIEWS - By Chris Bai­ley

SOME of Worces­ter­shire’s per­for­mances last sea­son were put down to the in­no­cence of youth, but new skip­per Joe Leach ad­mits his side are guilty of us­ing age as an ex­cuse.

Di­rec­tor of cricket Steve Rhodes brought Daryl Mitchell’s six-year reign as cap­tain to an end ear­lier this month after the Pears failed to re­turn to Divi­sion One at the first time of ask­ing.

At the heart of their dis­ap­point­ment was mad­den­ing in­con­sis­tency – no team won more games in red-ball cricket this sum­mer but, per­versely, in one such ex­am­ple,Worces­ter­shire fell to an in­nings de­feat against Divi­sion Two win­ners Es­sex in the run-in. Six of those who played for Worces­ter­shire in that match are 24 or un­der – in­clud­ing two-time Lion Joe Clarke – but Leach be­lieves it is time to put the talk of po­ten­tial to one side.

“It’s very much a mes­sage I want to send out at the start of next sea­son,” he said.

“We don’t want to be talked about as a young side any­more un­less it’s ‘they are young but that’s a fac­tor of why they’re do­ing so well’.

“To a man I think ev­ery­one’s up to the task now and we’ll be a year older from what we went through in 2016.

“We need con­sis­tency – when we were good, we were very good. In the Cham­pi­onship we won six times and that’s as many as any other county but when we played badly, we played re­ally badly.

“And then we want to build on what we did in the One-Day Cup after reach­ing the quar­ter-fi­nals – it was a yo-yo year, but there was a lot of prom­ise, too.”

Mitchell posted a heart­felt open let­ter on Twit­ter after be­ing left ‘deeply hurt’ by his sack­ing – though, ac­cord­ing to Leach, any hatch­ets over the de­ci­sion were buried al­most im­me­di­ately.

“I cer­tainly wouldn’t say there’s been any divi­sion, but some peo­ple needed time to re­flect on it,” added Leach, who took a to­tal of 96 wick­ets last year and fin­ished fourth in the PCA’s MVP rank­ings.

“I think in a lot of ways it is for the best as we’ve made the tran­si­tion re­ally early ahead of the new sea­son. From my point of view, Daryl has been fan­tas­tic and was the first per­son to give me his full back­ing.

“Given the tim­ing of the cap­taincy, it’s good to know that my game has been in or­der – I don’t want it to suf­fer be­cause of the re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“Peo­ple may say that be­ing an all-rounder, I’ve al­ready got a lot to deal with but it’s en­cour­ag­ing to know that I’ve been build­ing my game year on year.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

I’m the man: Joe Leach, right, will lead Worces­ter­shire’s charge next sea­son

Gone: Daryl Mitchell

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