Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Mason Says Leach Can Push For All-Rounder Slot With England Lions

Bowling coach Matt Mason believes Worcestershire vice-captain Joe Leach is good enough to push for an England Lions spot as a genuine all-rounder.

Leach again showed his prowess with the ball in taking career best match figures of 9-109 in the Specsavers County Championship triumph over Leicestershire this week.

That took his Championship wicket tally to 24 this season to add to the 59 scalps he picked up in four-day cricket last summer.

But Mason believes Leach has the talent with the bat to force his way back into the top six – a role he previously occupied when scoring a century against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham three years ago.

Mason, who is also assistant coach at New Road, said: "Joe has got 116 wickets in two a bit seasons and it is amazing really and just reward for his hard work and dedication.

"He is probably one of the most determined cricketers we've got in our camp. He has made the most of his ability. He works really hard on both his fitness and his preparation.

"Joe has got a big heart. He will run in all day as he proved against Leicestershire, unchanged for a 10 over spell and then back again after lunch.

"He puts the team first which is a fantastic attribute to have. He is now vice-captain as well which shows how he is held in high regard by his peers and also by Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) and all the coaches.

"The thing is we haven't seen the best of him yet. He is learning all the time. He is only 25 but he is quite a late starter compared to some.

"I think we will see more and more from him and I think he can really push as an all-rounder for a place on something like an England Lions tour, particularly a white ball tour and maybe even red ball.

"England is crying out for those good all-rounders. Obviously we've seen Ben Stokes and people like that so there I no reason why Joe Leach can't force his name in front of those selectors."

Leach currently bats primarily at number eight in a strong batting line-up but Mason has no doubts about his ability to bat further up the order.

He said: "It is tough for him because we have got such a talented batting side but there is no reason why he can bat in the top six – and he scored a hundred batting there.

"I think Joe just has to remember that when he goes in at number eight at the moment, he is a batter and he needs to bat like a batter and he will get some big scores and push his way in.

"If we had one or two injuries to our batters, then I'm sure he could fill a role in that middle order.

"What a strength of position we are in to have a batter of his quality coming in at number eight."