Joe Leach is keen to make a sizeable contribution with the bat for Worcestershire to add to his already massive impact with the ball.
Leach’s capabilities with the bat have always been there, as demonstrated when he scored a superb century against Gloucestershire in 2013.
At that time, he was a top-six batter and only a part-time member of the attack.
Leach admits he had a spell where his batting suffered after becoming Club Captain and dropping himself down the order to accommodate others.
A tally so far of 372 first-class wickets and finishing as the leading wicket-taker for Worcestershire five years out of eight full seasons is testament to Leach’s impact as a key bowler.
But Leach sees himself “as a genuine option as an all-rounder” as he moves into a new phase of his career after relinquishing the captaincy role at the end of last season.
He showed his quality in making an aggressive but controlled 70 in the opening LV=Insurance County Championship encounter with Leicestershire.
He said: “Just before I took on the captaincy, I had kind of figured out the number eight role, how to bat there.
“I guess, taking over the captaincy, I put myself down the order to give others the opportunity and then I batted poorly.
“I had a couple of years where I didn’t really value my batting. I started batting like the position I was in.
“I did certainly go through a period where I lost the tempo of the innings and didn’t give myself a chance to get into my innings.
“That is fair to say. I think that came from the responsibility being taken off myself by where I was batting myself in the order, if that makes sense.
“I’ve certainly invested a lot of time in my batting – I always have done – and having more time to invest in my batting is also key.
“I do certainly want to contribute with the bat. I don’t see myself just as a bowler who can fling the bat down the bottom of the order.
“I see myself as a genuine option as an all-rounder, and hopefully, in the next few years, I can really start to score runs.
“Certainly batting at eight, as opposed to nine or ten, where I was batting, enables you to get more scores, and I’ve had quite a few 20 and 30 not outs over the last few years.”
“I’m looking forward to really getting going and hopefully kicking on from Leicester.”
Leach played a key role at Leicester in helping centurion and new Club Captain, Brett D’Oliveira, to lead a recovery from 45-4 on the opening day.
He said: “First action after giving up the captaincy and first game back, there are always a few nerves, so it was nice to be able to contribute to the team straight away.
“It was nice to help us get what was a very good score on that wicket and spend a lot of time with Brett and put together a partnership.
“Good sides bat deep, and we want to be a good side, so those runs down the order are invaluable.”
Worcestershire have named a 14 strong squad for the opening home County Championship match with Sussex, which gets underway tomorrow.
Left-arm pace bowler, Ben Gibbon, has been added to the players chosen for the trip to Leicestershire.
Worcestershire 2022 overseas player Azhar Ali and Ed Pollock are set to make their home debuts.
Head Coach Alex Gidman said: “We played some outstanding cricket in that first game, and I’m sure the guys will be looking to replicate that, and improve in a couple of areas, and try and improve again in general if we can.
“The season is well underway, but it feels almost like the start of the season in some respects due to the fact we haven’t been at home during pre-season, and we only had two practice days here at New Road before this game.
“There is also an element of the season beginning with having not played in the second round of matches so looking forward to it immensely.
“We love playing at New Road and are looking forward to seeing our members and supporters and getting our home season underway.
Brett D’Oliveira (c)
Ben Cox (w)