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.

The 27-year-old 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: “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 captaining the team now.

“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. 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: “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.”