Leach is making no excuses for young charges next term
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.”
I’m the man: Joe Leach, right, will lead Worcestershire’s charge next season
Gone: Daryl Mitchell