Dom Leech believes a winter racking up the overs on Australian pitches will set him up ideally to contribute towards an LV= Insurance County Championship promotion push next summer.
The young fast bowler, 22, is currently playing South Australian grade cricket in Adelaide, representing the Woodville club.
Leech has so far enjoyed a productive spell with the club where former Aussie Test seamer Chadd Sayers calls home as a former player and now a coach and where Gloucestershire all-rounder Ben Charlesworth is currently playing.
The promising Yorkshire quick is loving his time Down Under, not least because it is further building his confidence that his body can cope with a serious weight of overs following a couple of frustrating years on the injury front.
“I’ve played three (two-day) red ball games with six wickets and a high-score of 47 and a T20 game,” said the Middlesbrough-born ex-England Under 19. “It’s been good, and the standard’s really good.
“They play tough, hard cricket over here. Being English, you get a bit more stick than the Australian lads do, but it’s good fun. All the lads have been brilliant, and Woodville as a club have been really accommodating.”
This is Leech’s first winter away from home and, thus, a significant one in the career of a bowler with a high ceiling development wise.
Leech only has 14 first-team appearances to his name across the trio of formats since debuting during the shortened summer of 2020, and one of those was on loan for Northamptonshire in July.
Injuries have disrupted things, including famously dislocating his knee when he careered into the concrete base of the Western Terrace whilst trying to field a ball on the boundary during a Roses Championship match at Headingley in 2021.
But within those appearances, he has produced some notable performances. He removed England fringe Test opener Haseeb Hameed in both innings on first-class debut against Nottinghamshire in 2020 at Trent Bridge.
He claimed 3-13 from two overs in a rain-affected Blast defeat against Derbyshire at Chesterfield the summer before last, and last summer was instrumental to the thrilling one-wicket win over Surrey at York in the Metro Bank One-Day Cup.
In that latter fixture, he claimed two new ball wickets and hit 18 not out from number 11, including the winning runs, as Yorkshire won by one wicket chasing 242. He shared an unbroken 33 for the last wicket with close mate Harry Duke.
In all first and second-team cricket last summer, he claimed 52 wickets and bowled just short of 320 overs.
“I didn’t play as much first-team cricket as I would have liked last season, but I got some decent overs under my belt in the second team and in the One-Day Cup,” he reflected.
“It was the first season since I signed professionally where I haven’t been injured. For me, that’s a huge tick in the box.
“I’ve carried it over to this winter, where my body is getting more and more used to bowling a good volume of overs. There were a couple of thoughts about coming out to Adelaide after Christmas, but I thought, ‘Whilst I’m used to bowling, just get out there’.
“Last summer, I felt stronger and more confident as the weeks went by. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Hopefully I’m beyond that stage where I keep picking up injuries and I can push on and stay on the park.”
Leech and Woodville have lost a two-day game, won one and drawn one. They are already out of the competition’s one-day competition, while Leech said: “I’m pretty sure we’re already through to the quarter-finals in the T20.”
In terms of his personal aims for the winter to push his game forwards, he said: “The consistency of hitting that line and length is key.
“It’s about not getting bored with doing the boring stuff. You know, ‘Hit top of off, top of off, top of off’. If you don’t try the funky stuff and stick to a length, it’s proven that you will reap the rewards of that.
“Out here, on these pitches, that’s exactly what you need to do because it’s flat and you’re bowling with a Kookaburra ball.”
He also feels the Australian pitches – hard and flat – suit his natural length as a seamer.
He said: “It’s an interesting one because I think my bad ball is the one which is a bit fuller and quite floaty.
“Coming out here and being able to smash the pitch and hit the top of off-stump and the splice of the bat has been good. If you are floaty and full here, you’ll just get driven back past you.
“Driving into the pitch and not getting too full is the big thing for this winter.”
Not surprisingly, Leech is spending quite a lot of time with Gloucestershire’s Charlesworth: “I’ve got my programme from Yorkshire, he has from Gloucestershire, and we’ve been in the gym together and in the nets.
“There’s always grass nets available at Woodville, so we’re down there quite a lot.”
The pair are also heading over to the Gold Coast during their Christmas break to meet up with Matthew Revis, who is playing his grade cricket in Queensland.
Leech is also thinking about heading to Melbourne next month to take in the Australian Open tennis if cricket commitments allow, before heading home to Leeds approximately three weeks before Yorkshire’s pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi in March.
“It’s been such an experience, and I’m so glad I’ve done it,” he said. “I would recommend it to all the lads at Yorkshire who’ve never done it before.
“It’s completely different to what I’m used to. It’s puts you out of your comfort zone. I’m living with a family who I’d never met before prior to six weeks ago, but they’ve been great with me. I can’t thank them enough.”
And on his aims for 2024 with Yorkshire, he added: “First things first, I want team success. We want to get back to Division One. Whether that’s coming first or second, promotion is the key thing. I’m guessing that’s what the lads at home will already be speaking about.
“For myself, I want to contribute as much as I can. When I’m required, I have to step up and take wickets.
“I’ve spoken to Gibbo, who has said, ‘I want you ready and firing for when you get back’. That’s all I can do and hope I get into the team.”