Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2018 season with a stress fracture of his back.
A CT scan confirmed the County’s worst fears after Leach felt soreness in his back during the Rapids crucial Royal London One-Day Cup clash with Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Thursday.
It is a second injury setback in a week for Worcestershire with paceman Josh Tongue side-lined until mid August after an MRI scan revealed a “stress response” in a metatarsal in his left foot.
Head Coach Kevin Sharp will now set about deciding on a replacement captain ahead of Sunday’s One-Day Cup semi-final with either Notts Outlaws or Kent Spitfires at Blackfinch New Road.
But he has confidence in the players to “stand up and be counted” and that Leach’s injury setback may open the door for another member of the squad.
Worcestershire Head Of Sports Science and Medicine, Ben Davies, confirmed: “Joe felt some soreness during the Warwickshire game and an MRI scan on Friday showed inflammation around the l5 region of the lumbar spine.
“He then had a CT scan on Tuesday which unfortunately showed a stress fracture in that region and he will miss the rest of the season.
“It will now be a case of resting and then rehab for Joe with the aim of making a complete recovery.”
Sharp said: “It is a big blow and Joe is gutted and quite upset at the minute. He has played such a major part for the club over the last few years.
“It is life. Bowling is a very physical job. Joe has had very few injuries but very rarely do bowlers go through their career without some sort of injury.
“We now have to regroup a bit. We have lost our captain for the rest of the season and we will have a think about things and sort that out over the next week.
“The lads will also be gutted but there is a great spirit in this squad and they will want to do it for Joe on Sunday.
“It means there will be an opening for others that might not have had an opportunity. We want the lads to stand up and be counted – and I’m sure they will.”
Leach amassed 193 County Championship wickets between 2015 and 2017 and finished in the top 10 of the PCA’s Most Valuable Player rankings in all three seasons.
He is again in the top five wicket-takers in Division One this season with 23 victims at 22.08 runs apiece.