25th Apr, 2018

Leach: We’re upbeat about facing the best

Rob George 14th Apr, 2018

PEARS skipper Joe Leach says he cannot wait for the first two games of Worcestershire’s County Championship campaign which kicked off yesterday.

The New Road side, promoted as Division Two champions, return to top-tier action with a trip to Southampton to face Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl before hitting the road again for a four-day clash with Somerset in Taunton next Friday.

The first home match comes against county champions Essex at the end of the month.

The season opens with a five-game block of County Championship clashes and Leach admitted three wins in the period would set his side up nicely.

“To go away for the first two games is tough but if we can get a couple of wins under our belts then it will stand us in really good stead,” he said.

“You go up into the top flight because you want to play against the best players and for us to face the likes of Stuart Broad, Alistair Cook and the two lads at Somerset, Overton and Leach, will be interesting and we’ll find out how good we are, I guess!”

The Pears’ pre-season preparations were once again hit by the weather as their friendly with Gloucestershire at Bristol on Monday was washed out without a ball being bowled.

Rain has been the biggest winner in the countdown to the campaign with the Pears lacking much practice since they returned from a pre-season trip to Abu Dhabi but Leach is relaxed about the possible impact.

“I think everyone is in the same boat. Ideally we’d want more time in the middle but we are professionals so I am not too concerned,” he said.

“We had a really good trip to Abu Dhabi and while it’s been a bit disjointed since we got back every time we have got outside it’s been productive.”

Leach led the county to the Division Two title in his first season at the helm last summer and joked the target was Division One glory this summer in the manner of Essex’s triumph in 2017 when they won the title in their first season back in the top flight.

“Let’s just see how we go. I won’t make too bold a statement but we want to make sure we establish ourselves in the division and feel we have got the side to do that,” he said.

“I look at our squad and I see players capable of winning games of cricket. I don’t see why that makes them underdogs. I think we should be meeting these guys toe to toe.

The all-rounder confirmed he would be sharing the new ball in the Championship with veteran seamer Steve Magoffin who has returned to the county after a spell with Sussex.

“Steve’s record is phenomenal, it’s nice to have the knowledge coming into the dressing room for us and the younger seamers to learn from.

“I’m looking forward to learning from him as well.”

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