Friday, June 16th, 2017

Question And Answer Session With Skipper Joe Leach

Question And Answer Session With Skipper Joe Leach

Joe Leach is relishing the opportunity to lead Worcestershire Rapids into battle in tomorrow's Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final with Surrey at New Road.

He believes the experience of the 2015 and 2016 quarter-final appearances in different competitions will stand the squad in good stead.

Here Joe looks forward to what will be Worcestershire's 25th semi-final appearance since knockout cricket first appeared in the early 1960s in a question and answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.


Question: Will the experience of the last two years – a T20 Blast quarter-final and One-Day Cup quarter-final – help you to cope with another big occasions?

Joe Leach: "I'm sure it will. We probably haven't done ourselves justice the last couple of times but that's all part of the development of what this side has been through now.

"As I keep saying, I think we are ready and that means in big games we need to be ready as well and come Saturday, I've every confidence that we will be absolutely fine and rise to the occasion.

"Defeats like those two do sit there and they obviously hurt a lot at the time but you put it in the experience bank and you move on.

"We've got what are a good side coming down here on Saturday but we go in with every confidence that we can put on a good show and, if we play somewhere near our best, then we will be in contention."


Question: The fact you've got Moeen Ali back is a massive boost for the team?

Joe Leach: "Yes it it. He is worth two players to us. He will come in at the top of the order with the bat and is brilliant at that but then also his off-spin bowling was fantastic in the group games he played.

"He turned the game against Durham when we looked like we were struggling. He turned it almost single-handedly in the middle period and enabled us to kick start the win there and he scored runs at Leicester.

"He is international pedigree and we are excited to have him back."


Question: Did you watch England's Champions Trophy semi-final with mixed feelings?

Joe Leach: "I wanted England to be win to be honest, and Pakistan were superb, but there is the added bonus of having Moeen back.

"But obviously Surrey get strengthened as well because they have Jason Roy coming back into their side. He is a brilliant striker of a cricket ball."


Question: I guess Moeen coming in at the top of the order means you don't have to change the balance of the side?

Joe Leach: "I don't think we would have had much issue with the balance of our side either way to be honest.

"But Moeen coming in at the top of the order does help us out a little bit. It means guys don't have to change the roles they've been playing in the group stages too much.

"Also Moeen was here for a lot of that group stage for us (five out of eight games). It is not a fresh face coming in for a one-off game. Everyone knows their roles and that has to be a good thing going into a big game."


Question: Talking about 'new' faces, what does it also mean to have John Hastings back?

Joe Leach: "His presence and stature in the dressing room is going to be really big for us and you can tell already he loves a big game.

"I hope that rubs off onto the players and feeds that belief and energy that he has got and will drip down into the players and stand us in good stead."


Question: Are you a big fan of Kumar Sangakkara?

Joe Leach: "He is a legend of the game isn't he. We got stung at last year at Somerset (by Jayawardene) and we need to try and make sure that doesn't happen again as best as we can.

"He played a very good knock on Tuesday against Yorkshire and steered them to a score that won them the game.

"He is a big scalp, he is big for them, but it is important we focus on what we do. We've managed to get out some big players this year and beat the teams they are in.

"He is a brilliant player but it is up to us to embrace the challenge."


Question: I bet you couldn't have dreamt your first year as captain might result in a Lord's final?

Joe Leach: "We will worry about that if we win on Saturday! We will just keep our head down and keep moving forward.

"If we get ahead of ourselves, that's when we don't play to our potential and we don't do what we do best. We've got to turn up on Saturday and play our game with confidence and this positive style we are trying to impose on people.

"If we impose ourselves on Surrey on Saturday, then we will have a good chance of doing what we want and if we get to Lord's, then we will just do the same there and we will worry about results come the end of the tournament whenever that may be."


Question: You have beaten four teams who play on international grounds at New Road in the competition this summer?

Joe Leach: "We have but that doesn't mean much to be honest. That was all part of the process to qualify for now.

"It was great to win the group, we played some really good cricket along the way but it doesn't really mean much if we don't win on Saturday. All we've done is given ourselves the best possible chance of qualifying by getting a home game at New Road."


Question: It's a big week with the Championship game against Kent to follow on the Monday at New Road?

Joe Leach: "It is a really big week for us. We are well aware of that. It's a promotion six pointer against Kent isn't it in terms of how the table seems to have taken shape so far.

"But we will focus on Kent come Sunday. This is a massive game on Saturday and one we are really excited for." —


Question: You said initially that it was hard to switch off from captaincy. Is that still the case?

Joe Leach: "It's getting better to be honest which is ironic considering we've lost two in two in the Championship!

"You feel the defeats a little bit more and you feel the wins a little bit more but I'm getting a little bit more used to some of the stuff off the field now.

"It's been two and a half months since the season got going and we are well and truly underway and the games come around so quick and fast that you need to draw a line under it and move on.

"Us being us in these big knockout games helps that because it really does refocus the mind and the group."

Question: So if you do get a day off, you are able to actually enjoy it?

Joe Leach: Yes, we've had a couple of days now, been in training Monday and Tuesday morning and then had a day off on Wednesday which has recharged the batteries and I can't wait for Saturday now."