Joe Leach has revealed the importance of his two years on his cricketing development with Leeds-Bradford MCCU as he prepares to return with Worcestershire tomorrow (Friday) for a three-day fixture at Weetwood.
The County's skipper said the experience at university helped him to gain the resilience and learn what was required to become a professional cricketer.
He made his first class debut for Leeds Bradford versus Surrey at The Oval five years ago, taking four wickets in the first innings – including Jason Roy for a duck – and scoring a half century in the second innings.
It was the first building block in what has flourished at New Road into a successful career with the new ball and as an accomplished middle to lower order batsman.
Leach said: "It will be nice going back. I had a very good relationship with the coach at Leeds, Andy Lawson, who is still the coach there now.
"I speak to him every month-six weeks still and we keep in touch so to go back there, in my first official game as captain, us something I'm really looking forward.
"I think I learnt a lot about myself playing university cricket and it enabled me to become a professional, those two years, because I think if I had come straight onto the (Worcestershire) staff at 19, I probably would have been out of the game now.
"It made me more resilient, more rounded, just my time away from the environment. You go out and realise what you have not got.
"I wanted to be a professional cricketer at 19 and wanted to come onto the staff, wasn't good enough, and had to go away and work really hard on my cricket and that's what I did.
"I learnt a lot about myself and what it would take for me to become a professional cricketer."
Leach added: "From a cricketing point of view, my game was in better order when I came back and also the improvement in my bowling had just started to take shape when I was at University.
"I think if I had come onto the staff at 19 here, my bowling probably might have just stayed in the background a little bit.
"I started to realise I could bowl and take wickets and I was bowling and got wickets in those first class games and county games that we played but also I was taking wickets in University cricket.
"I was coming back to play club cricket and Minor Counties cricket and taking wickets and I think it was the beginning of the snowball for my bowling, having the opportunity to do it week in and week out as a front-line bowler, even though I was a batter.
"I wasn't being picked as a bowler but I almost turned myself into an all-rounder playing into the top four or five but able to bowl my overs. It really did develop my bowling.
"In 2010-2011, if you look at my Birmingham League stats, that period was when I started to take a lot of wickets.
"I had well over 30 in 2010, nearing towards 50 in all competitions, and thren backed it up with wickets the following year, then came back here to Worcestershire for a winter in 2012.
"I got stronger and fitter and all of a sudden my pace went up as well and the skills I had learnt at University and playing in league cricket, I was doing those at a better pace.
"It was progression to start bowling professionally but the University stint kind of started the snowball, definitely."