By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
SHREWSBURY’S promising young batsman Steve Leach, eyeing a career in professional cricket, has been named as the Birmingham League’s young player of the year.
Leach, who will receive his award at the League’s AGM on January 22, said he was delighted to be recognised for the role he played in helping Shrewsbury be crowned premier division champions.
Leach, 20, the younger brother of Shrewsbury’s Worcestershire all-rounder Joe, struck 831 premier division runs for the London Roaders in 2013 at a healthy average of 43.74.
Only his Shrewsbury opening partner Ed Foster, who plundered 874 runs, and Knowle & Dorridge’s Alex Phillips, who hit 846 runs, bettered Leach’s return with the bat in the top-flight last season.
“It was a very pleasing season with Shrewsbury but the runs wouldn’t have mattered so much had we not won the league,” Leach told the Chronicle.
“It was nice to be able to contribute and it was a very pleasant surprise when I found out I had won this award.
“Quite a few of the Shrewsbury lads have gained recognition for what was an excellent season for the club.
“I want to score even more runs next season and I must admit I’m already really looking forward to it.
“I had played for 18 months solid having spent last winter in Australia but I’ve had a break now and I can’t wait to get back playing again.”
In some ways, admits Leach, it was a bitter sweet season for him as while he shone with the bat for Shrewsbury and also impressed for Shropshire in the Minor Counties Championship, he was disappointed to leave Worcestershire.
But as one door shuts, Leach is hopeful another one may open soon as he sets his sights on following his brother Joe into the County Championship.
Leach is currently strudying business and sport management at Oxford Brookes University which will also allow him to play cricket at a high standard.
He’s already focusing on the matches his university side will play against Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire at The Parks early next season.
“I’ll be looking to get in the side and do as well as I can in those two games,” he said. “The aim for me is to definitely go on and play professional cricket.”
Leach added seeing what his brother has achieved at Worcestershire over the last two summers also serves as a major motivational tool.
“I’ve seen Joe put the hard yards in and he’s doing really well,” he said.