Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Award Winner Leach: My Own Season “could Not Have Gone Much Better”

Award Winner Leach: My Own Season “could Not Have Gone Much Better”

Joe Leach admits the 2015 season "could not have gone much better" from his own viewpoint and which culminated in him being voted Worcestershire's Players' Player Of The Year.

It was a superb turnaround in fortunes for the all-rounder after he had been left out of the side for the opening two LV = County Championship matches of the campaign.

Leach ended up with 59 Championship wickets from 14 games and nearly 500 runs in addition to making valuable contributions in both forms of white ball cricket.

The former Shropshire player reflected on the campaign as a whole with the Worcestershire CCC website.

Leach said: "What did it mean to be voted the Players' Player Of The Year? It is nice to get recognition from all the other lads. It is not really something I thought about at the time.

"It is only after reflecting on it for a couple of weeks to see how far I've come, from starting the season, and then to get the recognition from the lads is really gratifying.

"Did I have an idea I was in contention to win the award? It is not something I think about. Everything happens so quick, the end of the season, and then you've got dinners and you don't really think about it.

"But it is really pleasing. For the guys to have voted for me shows that they respected my performances which was really nice.

"The whole season from a personal point of view could not have gone better. Obviously it tailed away a little at the end but as an overall package it was fantastic.

"It is something you want to achieve as a professional and really pleasing.

"There is starting to be a little bit of a pattern developing with the way I go about things and that's been shown in being appointed vice-captain now.

"I am a competitor and I read Mase (bowling coach Matt Mason) saying something along the lines of I would do whatever it takes to succeed – and that is my character."

Leach admits he was determined to make an impact after regaining his place following Gareth Andrew suffering a recurrence of a back problem.

He said: "It stung me a little bit being left out of the side. I respected the decision but I wasn't overly happy and wanted to make sure when I got back in, I took my chance.

"Myself and Bumpy (Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes) have got a very open and honest relationship. He knows exactly where I want to be. I'm ambitious but I also want to do well for the club.

"I speak my mind, I suppose. I wouldn't say I'm bullish but I'm very open and honest. We had a conversation about it at the start of the season and I was almost like 'alright then, watch this' when I got back in the side.

"That's kind of my character really."

Leach responded to his recall with 95 in the innings win over Somerset at New Road as his partnership of 160 with wicket-keeper Ben Cox changed the shape of the game.

He said: "I was disappointed not to get a hundred then looking back on it and that was one of my better innings of the season.

"It is a shame I couldn't have capitalised on that a bit more. I batted well but still only ended up averaging around 30.

"It would have been nice to kick on and really have a stellar, stellar year but that is something to build on for next season."

Leach stepped into the new ball bowler role with great effect after the 2014 season had seen him pick up 33 wickets in 12 LV = CC games – his first season as a fully fledged member of the bowling unit.

He said: "I don't want to sound too blase about it but it was just like a natural progression. I bowled pretty well, I bowled with the new ball in the second team.

"If you had asked at the start of the year would I take the new ball, I think most people at the club would have said 'no', that it's not going to happen, we've got Charlie (Morris), Jack (Shantry), Gareth (Andrew) at the time.

"Most people would have been surprised I ended up taking the new ball as early as I did and then I was in a rich vein of form and it snowballed and went really, really well.

"Then towards the back end of the season, I was actually fighting with it a little bit. I struggled a bit towards the end of the season, for whatever reason.

"Fatigue probably had a bit to do with that. If you had said to me in April 'you are going to take 59 wickets' I would have said it's going to be a good effort having missed the first couple of games.

"But I wouldn't have thought it would be in the manner it happened with the new ball. It is really pleasing, something I want to build on now moving forward."

Leach refuses to blame tiredness for the way such a successful campaign tailed off in the final stages compared to what he had previously achieved during the summer.

He said: "I set myself up to fail a little bit in those last couple of games by how well it went. I think having only three seamers helped that wicket tally really.

"I bowled my overs to get that tally and probaby paid the price a little bit at the back end of the season.

"I don't want to sound too blase and just say 'I was tired, that's why I bowled badly'. There were other factors as well.

"I just didn't perform as well as I would have liked at the end of the season. I don't want to make excuses.

"At the end of the day you are a professional cricketer, and you start April 1 and finish the end of September. You can't just turn up for two or three months of the season.

"It is up to me this winter now to get reconditioned to go again next April."

*Tune in to the Worcestershire CCC website for part two of the interview with Joe Leach in the next few days.