worcestershire club captain joe leach returns and batsman josh dell will make his specsavers county championship debut in tomorrow’s meeting with durham at New Road (11am start).
leach is back available after suffering a stress fracture of his back 11 months ago.
he has gradually built up his fitness in recent weeks, playing club cricket for shrewsbury and worcestershire seconds.
dell has earned his opportunity today after impressing in pre and early season and leach witnessed at first hand a superb unbeaten century when carrying his bat for the seconds in the championship match at northern cc two weeks ago.
george rhodes – a century-maker 10 days ago versus yorkshire vikings in the royal london one-day cup – is also recalled to the championship side.
australian batsman callum ferguson is unavailable against durham due to a family commitment.
first team coach alex gidman said: “really pleased for josh. he has worked extremely hard and has done what we asked him to do in the second team.
“he did very well pre-season and was so close to playing against leicestershire. he got a fantastic hundred versus lancashire seconds and himself and george rhodes have been banging on the door for some time.
“with callum ferguson not available because of a family commitment, it has opened up an opportunity for josh and george to stake a claim.”
leach is back for the first time since suffering the injury in a royal london one-day cup match against warwickshire at edgbaston.
gidman said: “joe’s comeback has been managed very carefully and ben davies (head of sports science and medicine) and ross dewar (strengthening and conditioning coach) have done a terrific job.
“joe is raring to go and i look forward to him leading and getting back amongst it.”
gidman is looking for worcestershire to “pick up where we left off” in championship cricket.
the county gained a convincing victory over leicestershire at the fischer county ground with a maximum haul of 24 points in their only four-day fixture to date.
now they will focus fully on red ball cricket for the two months – with four of the next five championship fixtures at home against durham, middlesex, lancashire and sussex.
there is a block of eight championship matches before the vitality blast gets underway in mid july.
worcestershire will be striving to bounce back from the royal london one-day cup quarter-final defeat against somerset on friday.
first team coach gidman said: “i said to the lads afterwards that we simply can’t afford to dwell on this (the somerset game) at all.
“they will have been disappointed and hurting after the game but we need to be really raring to go and mentally ready for tuesday.
“there is no physical work that needs to be done, it’s just the mental adjustments to red ball cricket. we got off to an extremely good start in that, albeit one game and we will look to pick up where we left off and get into that.
“in a way it’s good now that it’s a block of red ball cricket and we can get our teeth into that and focus on that and try our very best to continue that good start to the season.”
ben cox (w)
joe leach (w)