Shropshire Star

Joe Leach aims to bowl over judges in cricket award

Worcestershire all-rounder Joe Leach has been named as one of the finalists in the Professional Cricketers’ Association 2022 Futures Awards after launching NEXX Cricket with former team-mate Ed Foster.

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The former captain at New Road formed the company in 2021 being the first to develop cricket equipment specifically designed for women.

Leach who passed 400 first class wickets in his career last summer is in contention with Fi Morris, of the North West Thunder, for the Business Impact Award.

The awards reward PCA members for their personal development away from cricket with the 32-year-old also completing a Masters degree with distinction in Leadership in Sport at the University of Buckingham.

Stafford-born Leach admitted he’s always thought about work outside of cricket, setting up Wolverhampton-based NEXX looking to his future after retirement.

He said: “At the start, it was touch and go as to whether I would have a professional career, so I’ve always been very mindful of the world outside of the game.

“I’ve thrown myself into professional development throughout my career, and the last couple of years that has culminated with finishing my Masters and setting up NEXX.

“The PCA does an outstanding job in pushing people towards professional development and, with cricket, the vast majority of players know they will have to work in other roles when their careers end.”

The former Pears captain is pleased with how NEXX is developing, gaining interest from people around the globe, and explained the reasons for setting up the company saying: “It’s early days but we are beginning to get a bit of traction in the world of cricket.

“We are the world’s first ‘female only’ cricket brand.

“Even with women playing at international level, the feedback we were getting was that the equipment was effectively men’s.

“We’ve changed some of the sizings, tried to make it female-specific and female-appropriate, and our feedback has been great.

“Now it is about making that as accessible as possible to the female game as it grows.”

There are three categories in the awards with the others being ‘Academic Progression’ and ‘CSR and Community’ and the winners will share a £7,000 prize to be reinvested into their personal development.

An overall winner for 2022 will be selected from the three category winners on Thursday, December 15.

The former Shropshire player has also been appointed as a non-executive director to the Shropshire Cricket Board focusing on community and disability cricket.

Leach is enjoying the role with the board saying: “The role I’ve got at Shropshire has been eye-opening for me, as someone involved in the professional game, to see what is going on at the grassroots level in disability cricket and the community.

“To be involved in that, even to a small degree, has been very humbling.”