New Head Bowling Coach Alan Richardson is unsurprised to see the way Joe Leach has replaced him as Worcestershire’s talisman when it comes to taking wickets.
Richardson established himself as a club legend by taking more than 250 Championship wickets in just four seasons with the County.
His departure to become bowling coach at Warwickshire early in 2014 appeared to have left a gaping hole in the Worcestershire attack.
But Richardson could already see the potential of Leach although it was Jack Shantry and Charlie Morris who were the leading wicket-takers that following summer when Worcestershire gained promotion.
Leach eased himself into the attack with 33 wickets in 12 games, followed it with 59 in 14 matches in 2015 – and has not looked back.
A further 65 from 16 games were claimed in 2016 and then last summer Leach finished as the leading wicket-taker in Division Two of the County Championship with 69 from 14 games.
It adds up to a staggering 226 victims from just 56 games – an average of more than four wickets per match.
Richardson said: “Could you see that potential in Joe when you were here? Definitely. You look at Joe and the way he has started. I’d like to think he is a far better player than me.
“He has got his head screwed on for starters and he has captained the club brilliantly and he can bat as well which is something I couldn’t do.
“He has led brilliantly, whether it has been the bowling attack itself, or whether the team now as captain.
“You might not have seen that at the start with Joe. I think physically it was a real challenge to start off with.
“You could see what he was trying to do mentally and he knew how he was going to try and go about it and the club gave him some opportunities.
“The one thing I would say is if you look at things technically and physically and the game is where it is – but a lot of it is played up in the head and Joe has always had a real capacity to take on what he needed to do and show that he could do it.
“Gladly he has had those opportunities and taken them and it hasn’t come as a massive surprise to me that he has been as successful as he has.”
Leach had looked destined to become a batsman who could bowl a bit after scoring a maiden century against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham in 2013.
Richardson said: “It probably shows how easy bowling is!! I just think with Joe, you watch people’s careers and how they go and they can be shaped certainly one way or the other.
“I think he’s probably just had more opportunities with the ball and batted lower down the order.
“But whatever challenge has been put in front of Joe, he’s generally been able to work it out and how he’s going to do it. That’s credit to him.”