LEECH LIVING CHESHIRE DREAM By Neil Goulding
DANNY Leech is one of Cheshire's most gifted young batsmen.
The talented hander has risen phoenix-like through the junior ranks, culminating in his senior debut in 2002.
And fittingly, having spent four successful seasons with the county, earlier this month the Oulton Park player was awarded his county cap, along with Nathan Dumelow, his club and county teammate.
"It was a really special day for me," said Leech, who has relished played Minor Counties cricket.
"We've got a great team. They really are a great bunch of lads and I've had so much fun playing for the county.
"Of course there are lows when you lose and don't perform, but I can honestly say there have been far more highs than lows.
"There's always a great atmosphere when we play a match. Most of the players play in the Cheshire County League, so we all know each other from club cricket and there's always been good rivalry."
Leech has not had his best season for the county side, but has scored three half centuries and smashed a top score of 103 in a fine win over Herefordshire at Alderley Edge Cricket Club this summer.
Knocks of 51 came against Northumberland and Cumberland in the Minor Counties Knockout Cup, as well as an excellent 85 against Cornwall at Nantwich Cricket Club in July.
And added to that success, Leech has been in sparkling domestic form for Park in the ECB Premier Division.
The opening batsman has scored an impressive 726 runs in 15 innings, at an average of 60.50.
That spell of run-scoring has included one century - his highest score this season an unbeaten 130 - as well as three-half-centuries, which includes three winnings when he remained not out.
His prowess with the willow is a marked improvement on last season's domestic assault.
He scored 351 runs in 12 innings, at an average of 35.10. This year's performance have already doubled his form with the bat.
"I've not had my best season for Cheshire, but I've done quite well," said Leech.
"I've scored a lot of runs in the league, which is opposite to last year when I performed better for Cheshire.
"I spent a lot of time in Australia the last two seasons working on my game, and I genuinely feel I'm a better player for it.
"We're building a good young side after winning the Minor Counties title last year - and I'm sure we'll win the title again in the next few years."
Leech is adamant it was always going to be difficult for Cheshire to win the Western Division title this season, and repeat their heroics of winning the Minor Counties national crown.
But with fellow young guns Danny Woods, James Duffy, Nick Cantello and Jon Farrow all coming into their own this season, Leech is rightly confident of further honours.
"It was always going to be hard to retain our titles, especially when the first two games of the season got rained off.
"But we've got the makings of a very strong team - and in the next few years I'm sure we'll win more silverware.
"On a personal note I want to do well for my county and do as well I can. I'm living the Cheshire dream!"