All-rounder Joe Leach is standing down as Worcestershire CCC Club Captain after five years in the role at New Road.
Leach will lead the side for the final time in an official capacity in the LV=Insurance County Championship match against Leicestershire at New Road beginning on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old will continue to have a key role to play for Worcestershire as a player in the forthcoming seasons after taking the decision himself to relinquish the captaincy role.
Leach took over as Club Captain from Daryl Mitchell at the end of the 2016 season.
He led the side to promotion in the County Championship 12 months later, with the help of his own 69 wicket contribution and also the semi-finals of the Royal London Cup.
Leach said: “I have decided to stand down as Club Captain. It’s obviously been a very tough one, one that has been on my mind for some time, if I’m honest.
“I made the decision just before the home game with Sussex three weeks ago that this was going to be my final season as captain.
“It was a difficult decision to make, but one that I feel is right, not only for myself but also for the group as well.
“I’ve done it for five years, and I’m immensely proud of what I’ve managed to achieve in some difficult times for the club over that five years.
“I’ve had a lot of things to deal with on and off the field, and now I guess the time is right to focus on my cricket and getting back to really enjoying it and doing the best I can with the bat and the ball.
“That last day against Durham when we went up as champions (in 2017) was definitely the highlight from a personal point of view and holding the Division Two trophy aloft at New Road.
“I’ve given everything to this club as a player pre-captaincy and, as captain, I’ve done exactly the same. I’ve led the club with immense pride and done my best every single day.
“That is how I will continue to operate as a cricketer.”
Worcestershire CCC Head Coach, Alex Gidman, paid tribute to Leach, who in his career has taken 326 first class wickets and scored 3, 284 first class runs.
He said: “Joe has decided to stand down as captain of the club.
“His efforts as a captain have been of the highest order, and he has led the team through some very challenging times and has done an exceptional job.
“He should be very proud of his efforts, and I’m sure he will look forward to some more successful years as a bowling all-rounder for us.
“I know he will put a lot of effort into, firstly, his cricket, which is really important and, secondly, he will get right behind whoever the next captain is and still do a very job as a senior player.
“There is no doubt he has still got a huge amount to offer us. He is still a very big part of the plans and a great man for us to have around still.”
Gidman has enjoyed a good working relationship with Leach.
He said: “We’ve got a great relationship, and that will continue. We’ve had our differences of opinion, which any healthy relationship has, and we can challenge each other very well.
“Fundamentally, I’ve always believed and will continue to believe, that the captain is the most important part of the whole club and has to be comfortable with what he wants on the pitch and how he goes about his business, and Joe has done that to the best of his ability.”
Worcestershire Cricket Steering Group Chairman, Paul Pridgeon, said: “Joe has been a fantastic servant of the club and has done a terrific job as captain over the last five years.
“He has grown into the job, is an excellent ambassador for the club and the players under his control.”