Thursday, December 8th, 2022


Worcestershire all-rounder, Joe Leach, has been named as one of the finalists in the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) 2022 Futures Awards after forming the first company to develop cricket equipment designed specifically for women.

Leach and Ed Foster, the back-up keeper to Steve Davies at New Road for some time, have launched a company called NEXX.

Worcestershire’s former Club Captain, who passed 400 first class wickets in his career last summer, is in contention with Fi Morris of North West Thunder for the Business Impact Award.

In addition, Leach has completed a Masters with distinction in Leadership in Sport from the University of Buckingham.

The awards, in association with Lodders Solicitors, reward PCA members for their personal development away from cricket, and Leach admits he has always looked to what the future holds after retirement since early in his career.

Leach has also been appointed a non-executive director to the Shropshire Cricket Board, focusing on Community and Disability cricket.

There are three categories, with the others being ‘Academic Progression’ and ‘CSR and Community”, and the winners will share a £7,000 prize to be reinvested into their personal development.

If Leach, 32, is successful at the Futures Awards, he would like to expand NEXX, specifically focusing on marketing, enabling the business to grow.

Leach, who made his first team debut a decade ago, said: “It is important to look to the future. It’s been something I’ve taken very seriously since the start of my career.

“At the start, it was touch and go as to whether I would have a professional career, so I’ve always been very mindful of the world outside of the game.

“I’ve thrown myself into professional development throughout my career, and the last couple of years that has culminated with finishing my Masters and setting up NEXX.

“The PCA do an outstanding job in pushing people towards professional development and, with cricket, the vast majority of players know they will have to work in other roles when their careers end.

“Whenever anyone asks me for advice, I encourage them to look at things outside of cricket, not only from a life point of view and setting yourself up outside of cricket, but I think it gives a real balance to your performances on the field as well.

“It gives you a good perspective of what life is about.”

Leach is pleased with how NEXX is developing and said: “It’s early days, but we are beginning to get a bit of traction in the world of cricket.

“We are the world’s first ‘female only’ cricket brand. Some companies do equipment for women, but we didn’t feel women’s equipment was fit for purpose.

“Even with women playing at international level, the feedback we were getting was the equipment was effectively men’s.

“We’ve changed some of the sizings, tried to make it female-specific and female-appropriate, and our feedback has been great.

“Now it is about making that as accessible as possible to the female game as it grows.”

Leach is also relishing his involvement with the Shropshire Cricket Board and is aware of its importance.

He said: “The role I’ve got at Shropshire has been eye-opening for me, as someone involved in the professional game, to see what is going on at the grassroots level in disability cricket and the community.

“To be involved in that, even to a small degree, has been very humbling.”

There will be four prizes on offer, with one winner from each category decided by a panel based on the personal development commitments made by each individual and on the quality of their presentations.

An overall winner for 2022 will be selected from the three category winners on Thursday, 15 December.

Each finalist will also receive mentoring and advice on a professional area of their choice from a Lodders professional.

Successful candidates will also receive an IT package from PCA partners, Lucidica, which includes a business-grade laptop and website upgrades.

A lengthy shortlist was whittled down to seven for the three categories through a thorough process by the PCA and Lodders, with the finalists travelling to the law firm’s Cheltenham office today (8 December) to present their personal development progress to a panel of PCA and Lodders staff.