Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Leach Aiming Higher With The Bat After Adapting To Number Eight Spot

Leach Aiming Higher With The Bat After Adapting To Number Eight Spot

Joe Leach has set his sights on "contributing towards 1,000 runs" next season after coming to terms with his approach to batting in the number eight role.

Worcestershire's new captain says it took him time to adapt to his role of a front-line member of the attack rather than being a top six player who bowled a bit.

The County's Players' Player Of The Year still contributed nearly 600 runs this summer – including a century against Derbyshire – to go with 65 County Championship wickets.

But Leach is hoping for an even more productive time with the willow in 2017 after starting to construct an innings rather than, in his words, playing as "a bit of a dasher."

The 25-year-old, who will spend the winter playing for North Canberra Gungahlin, said: "It took me a while to come to terms with the different role.

"I found it difficult increasing the workload on my bowling and then still finding the right balance with the bat.

"I went through a long period, even probably at the start of this year, when I was playing as a bit of a dasher at number eight rather than constructing an innings.

"But things suddenly started to click about half-way through this summer ever since I started constructing innings.

"After six games, I probably hadn't got 100 runs but I finished close to 600 runs which shows I had a decent second half to the year.

"Hopefully moving onto into next year, if I can carry on and construct innings from the start, then I can contribute up towards 1,000 runs from number eight which would be lovely."

Leach points to the example of Chris Woakes when asked if it is expecting too much of a strain on a player to open the bowling and bat at number six.

He said: "I don't know if it is too much to do that. I don't think there is any real need to do that in this side.

"Obviously I'd like to bat higher at times but if we've got a strong batting side, me coming in at number eight shouldn't affect my game.

"It can only be a good thing for the side if I'm coming in at eight, with Coxy (Ben Cox) at seven.

"But that means the lads at the top need to be scoring runs as well and, if we are putting pressure on them from underneath along with guys from the second team, it is going to turn into a healthy squad with lots of competition for batting spots – and that's how we are going to improve as a side."