LONG-SERVING all rounder and former Pears skipper Joe Leach has been awarded a testimonial by Worcestershire CCC for the 2024 campaign.
Leach made his debut for Worcestershire 11 years ago and was initially a top six batter, scoring his maiden century against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham in 2013.
But he gradually evolved into the focal point of the Worcestershire attack, the go-to bowler, and clocked up his 450th first class wicket last summer.
He has finished as the County’s leading wicket-taker for six seasons, including 2017 when he marked his first year as captain by picking up his best ever haul of 69 wickets.
Leach’s efforts played a major role in sealing promotion to Division One of the County Championship that summer.
He spent five years as captain until the end of the 2021 season and his 48 wickets in 2023 also played a key part in promotion again being guaranteed in September against Yorkshire at Headingley.
The 33-year-old has taken 450 first class wickets at an average of 26.52 including five in an innings on 17 occasions, plus 57 List A and 52 T20.
In 2015, he became the first English bowler to register a hat-trick with the first three balls of a List A match, in the One Day Cup meeting with Northamptonshire at New Road.
Leach has also scored 3,821 first class runs, 903 List A and 261 T20 and on his day is a clean hitter with the ability to score at a rapid rate.
He said: “It is really hard to know what to say other than I’m just extremely grateful to the club for awarding me a testimonial. It’s a pinch yourself moment really, not something you can ever expect to achieve.
“When you set off on your career, you don’t think about things like that. All you really think about is trying to get into the side and establishing yourself.
“You look to the people at the club who’ve had testimonials since I started and it was kind of reserved for legends of the club.
“I certainly don’t consider myself that, so to have been granted one, I’m extremely grateful and looking forward to what hopefully will be a really fun year.
“I’ve loved my time here. It has absolutely flown by and there are some great memories. Some fantastic highs, one as recently as a couple of months ago with promotion.
“Everyone says your playing career produces some of the best times of your life and I’m proud to have been a one club man with a great club.”
Worcestershire CEO, Ashley Giles, said: “Joe Leach has been a fantastic performer for the County and his testimonial is richly deserved.
“He has been the leader of the attack for many years. His record is phenomenal and he has played a major role in some of the successes of the past decade.
“Joe would run through a brick wall for you with the ball, keep going forever if you asked him to and once again last summer was a key performer in helping Worcestershire gain promotion.
“He is the perfect team-man, someone who puts the good of the team ahead of any individual success.
“Everyone at the club, players, coaches, staff, members, supporters, wishes him all the best for what we hope will be a successful 2024 testimonial year.”