SKIPPER Joe Leach says Worcestershire members and supporters should look forward with optimism to the dawn of a new era at Blackfinch New Road.

The County have a new-look coaching set-up and a rapidly-maturing squad preparing for the challenges of the 2018 campaign and Specsavers County Championship Division One cricket.

Leach is confident new head coach Kevin Sharp and bowling coach Alan Richardson, in tandem with incoming CEO Matt Rawnsley, can lead Worcestershire into a thrilling period in the club’s history.

He said: “It’s been a winter of change but now we are looking forward to a new era.

“I can assure all members and supporters that we are going forward full of optimism and confidence. The squad is bubbling and raring to get going.

“Kevin has got vast coaching experience at all sorts of levels from being a senior coach and batting coach at Yorkshire to being batting coach and second XI coach at Worcestershire.

“Alan was a legend as a player here even though he only played for four seasons and he has been building up his coaching know-how during a successful spell at Warwickshire.

“We’ve also got one of the best in the business in Elliot Wilson running the academy and we will no doubt be looking to appoint someone of the right ilk as the new second XI coach.

“On the playing side, I firmly believe this squad is ready to grasp the nettle and show what it is made of.

“They have already made great strides in the past two or three years, have rapidly matured and are ready to embrace the challenges ahead in Division One.

“We are not getting carried away and know it will be a step up from Division Two in quality. We are well aware of that.

“But we are also not going there with the attitude of trying to stay up or if we can survive. Our goals are higher than that.

“We all want to prove ourselves against the best in Division One.

“Most of the lads already have experience of Division One, now have two more years experience under their belt and want to make their mark and hopefully gain international recognition.

“Without getting carried away, and we are a level-headed bunch, I would assure supporters the future is bright at New Road.”