Joe Leach says he is as hungry and driven as ever to succeed after almost a decade of taking the new ball and believes Worcestershire could be “on the cusp of doing something really good.”
Leach became a key member of the attack on a regular basis for the first time during the 2014 season when Gareth Andrew’s back problem initially opened the door.
He became the ‘go-to’ bowler in the Worcestershire attack, and more than 400 first class wickets demonstrates the impact he has made year after year.
Leach is looking to continue the form he has shown since giving up the captaincy in September 2021, and since then, 12 LV=Insurance County Championship appearances have yielded 55 wickets.
He said: “I think from my own point of view, having that drive is one of my biggest strengths. Ever since I turned professional, I’ve wanted to do well, I want to win, and I make no secret of that at any stage of my career.
“I’m no different to that now, and I guess if that wanes at any point, that will probably be the time to move on.
“But at the moment, I’m hungry, really excited about where we are at as a side, certainly in the red ball game.
“I think that we could be on the cusp of doing something really good.
“That is motivation in itself. Everyone wants to be part of a winning and successful team, and we’ve got the opportunity to create that this year here.”
Leach added: “Our trend in red-ball cricket in recent years, there is no doubt that it has been on the ‘up’. I don’t think anyone could say we are the finished article, but it certainly feels like it is trending in the right direction, generally speaking.
“We’ve spoken a bit more about turning some of those draws into wins, recognising that at times we could maybe be a little bit more positive.
“I don’t think we’ve been that far off in red-ball cricket and sometimes it is literally the knife’s edge as to whether you win or draw a game.
“Looking back on last year, there were a couple of dropped catches here or there, and we might otherwise have finished second in the table.
“Red ball cricket is certainly not a million miles away and, if we can build on last year and improve, I’d like to think we would be in a really good spot.”
Leach picked up 21 wickets in four Championship games at the end of the 2021 campaign after ending his five years as captain and a further 34 in eight appearances last summer.
He said: “Towards the end of my captaincy term, I was starting to bowl defensively, and I think I’ve gone back, whether sub-consciously in the first instance, to being a little bit more positive.
“At times, I felt I bowled really well in those couple of years and didn’t get my rewards, which is the game, but at the moment, things are going well, and hopefully, that can continue into this season.
“The 12 games since I gave up the captaincy have been a high, and hopefully that can continue, and I can back up performances in the same way I have done in other parts of my career.”
Leach has been an ideal team man for Worcestershire but is also proud of personal achievements he has clocked up.
He said: “I’m very much driven by wanting the team to be successful but any cricketer who tells you they are not completely aware of or driven by personal milestones, is not telling you the complete truth.
“I was immensely proud last year to tick over 400 wickets. As someone who has been a cricket badger since I was very, very young, it is certainly not lost on me that 400 first class wickets is an achievement in itself.
“But I’m still in the midst of my career, I can improve that, and I want to improve that but I’m not really bothered what total I end up on as long as we are a successful side.
“That is my mindset at the moment. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t immensely proud looking back on that achievement at the end of last season.
“But there is not any number hanging over my head to try and achieve anytime soon.”