Dom Leech is hoping his early season watching brief can be of benefit to Yorkshire’s bid for silverware this summer.
The young fast bowler is back in action after missing the first two months of the season with a fractured rib, making his T20 debut in last Friday’s 10 win Vitality Blast win over Birmingham at Edgbaston, in which he took 1-16 from two overs.
Leech, 21, then helped the Vikings make a further step towards the quarter-finals as they beat Durham at the Seat Unique Riverside, returning an impressive 1-17 from three overs in the 65-run win which consolidates the county’s position in the top four quarter-final qualifying places in the North Group with a fifth win in nine games.
And they will bid to take another when they face Derbyshire at Chesterfield tomorrow (2.30pm).
“To make my debut at Edgbaston, with my family there as well, it was really special,” said the Middlesbrough-born former England Under 19s quick.
“I fractured my 12th rib. I just did it bowling, and I think it’s quite a rare injury in cricket. I felt I was in a decent place to start the season, so it was tough coming in doing the 12th man duties, watching the lads play as I did my rehab.
“But the medical team have been really good with me, helping me get fit and strong.
“I’ve been able to watch how we’ve bowled, how they’ve bowled on these pitches in both Championship and T20 cricket.
“While it’s been really tough, it’s also been a positive because now I’m fit and ready, I can come in from the sidelines and make a difference.
“There’s been a lot more runs scored this season, and it’s been good to watch bowlers try and combat that. It’s been good to assess the lines and lengths, and at least I’ll know where to bowl and where not to bowl.”
Leech’s comments about being in a “decent place” to start the season are bang on.
He was one of the big winners out of the programme of pre-season friendlies and is highly rated by the county’s coaching staff.
“Dom is developing nicely,” said coach Ottis Gibson, an ex-international fast bowler and bowling coach of some repute.
“Part of my job is to develop players for the future, and he’s certainly a bright player for the future. I like him a lot, I like his energy and work ethic.
“He’s got obvious talent, and I want to try and give him as many opportunities as I can.
“At the moment, we’ll give him a start (in the Blast) and manage him properly to make sure we don’t over-burden him. But he may well get an opportunity in the Championship before the end of the season, and he would deserve that if it comes.”
Leech has played three first-class games to date, his first coming against Nottinghamshire in the Bob Willis Trophy in the Covid-shortened summer of 2020 when he dismissed England opener Haseeb Hameed in both innings.
He was with the squad down at Hampshire this week for the Championship match at the Ageas Bowl, where he worked on both red and white ball skills.
That work showed last night up in the North East.
“I went down to get my loads up,” he said. “I’ve bowled 25 overs this week, and the body feels good. The rib is fine. I’m ready.
“I’ve been working with Kabir (Ali) on the white ball stuff and Ottis with the red.
“Kabir was also an outstanding bowler with the white ball. I’ve been watching videos of him bowling his yorkers, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do this week. I’ve really enjoyed this week.”
Leech is happy to take on whichever role is asked of him with the ball, be it with the new one, through the middle or at the end.
He took the new ball last night. But, whichever one he does take on, he is determined to follow the mantra set by coach Gibson and captain David Willey, who is currently with England’s ODI squad in the Netherlands.
“The message we’ve been given from Gibbo and Dave is to just be aggressive and be on the front foot,” he added. “The phrase they use is, ‘Throw the first punch with bat or ball’.
“Lads coming into the team are going to do that. No matter who plays, we want to be on the front foot.”
Yorkshire (11 points) are three points clear of Derbyshire, who are currently fifth but have only played eight. A win tomorrow and a significant and important gap will open up.
The Falcons have won four of eight games so far.
Yorkshire last won a T20 against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 2014, since losing in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. They did, however, win there in the Royal London Cup last year.