Skipper Joe Leach says the way Pat Brown and Dillon Pennington effectively stepped up to replace himself and Josh Tongue last summer was no great surprise within the Worcestershire camp.

Leach and Tongue missed sizeable chunks of the campaign with back and foot injuries respectively having taken a combined total of 116 Specsavers County Championship wickets in 2017.

But whilst a setback to miss two key performers, fears members and supporters may have had at this double blow were quickly eased.

Brown in the Vitality Blast, where he finished as the competition’s leading wicket-taker, and Pennington in the County Championship showed their potential and gained experience that will stand them in good stead in the years to come.

Leach said: “It was not ideal when myself and Tonguey went down (injured) but the way the group responded was first rate and, to be honest, we were not overly missed and that’s really good.

“It was easy to think that (it was a double blow) from the outside looking in but we’ve always had a lot of faith in the young guys.

“Pat Brown was a revelation in the T20. His season was exceptional, probably beyond his own expectations, and he was probably the stand-out seamer in the competition which is full credit to him aged 20.

“Dillon has had a lot of raw potential and it was probably only a matter of time anyway before he started playing anyway. The way he bowled at Kane Williamson (at Scarborough) and Surrey at home showed just what he is capable of.

“We felt really comfortable giving these guys a chance and they did really well to step up but inside the camp we never really felt we were overly short.

“They stepped up really well and, if you look down the line, it’s going to stand us in good stead for future seasons as well.

“Also I think the signing of Woody (Luke Wood) and Carts (Andy Carter) in T20 provided a little bit of competition for places because the last thing you want is for the eleven to pick itself.”

*Read a full interview with Joe Leach on the Worcestershire CCC website during the next few days.