Joe Carrasco has been appointed Shropshire County Cricket Club’s new captain.
He replaces Steve Leach, who has skippered the side for the last three years, but now has restricted availability after securing a new job which he starts next week.
Carrasco was named vice-captain to Leach for Shropshire’s Unicorns Championship side ahead of the 2019 season getting under way.
The Oswestry batsman will lead the team for the first time when the county open their three-day Championship campaign against Dorset at Shrewsbury later this month.
Shropshire chairman Toby Shaw said: “We thank Steve for impressively leading the side over the last three years.
“Work commitments mean he’s unavailable for the first two three-day games this season, and, having spoken to Steve, the decision has been taken with continuity in mind to elevate Joe from vice-captain to captain.
“We are pleased for Steve’s career progression that he has a new job and fully understand and appreciate he has commitments to his new position.
“We hope that Steve, who is a fine player, will continue to play for Shropshire when he is available.
“It has now created an exciting opportunity for Joe. He has shown tremendous maturity, will relish his new role, and we wish him every success.”
Bryan Jones, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, paid tribute to Leach for his contribution as captain and said Carrasco is the right man to now lead the side.
He added: “Steve has led the side really well and we have worked well together as a team over the last three years. I hope he still has a significant role to play for Shropshire moving forward.
“We identified lots of qualities in Joe which is why he was appointed vice-captain. It will be a smooth transition now he is stepping up to captain the team.”
Carrasco, 23, insisted he’s proud to have been asked to take over as Shropshire captain.
“I’m very happy and proud to have been selected by the committee,” he confirmed. “I’ve played a lot of cricket now and there’s a lot of experience within the squad, so it’s almost a self-governing team.”
His appointment means so much to Oswestry-based Carrasco, who represented Shropshire at various age group levels before progressing to the senior side.
“I started playing from under-10s through to under-17s,” he said. “I then played some development games before my debut for the senior side at 18 against Herefordshire at Shifnal.”
Carrasco, who scored his maiden century for Shropshire in last weekend’s Unicorns Knockout Trophy defeat against Cumberland, hopes Leach, the man he replaces as skipper, will continue to have a big part to play.
He said: “It’s not ideal to have lost Steve for the next few games because he’s obviously a very good player who has scored a lot of runs for Shropshire and captained the side really well.
“We’re hopeful that he’s going to still be able to play, the more games the better really, and try to help us.”
Leach, 25, stressed he had been honoured to captain Shropshire for the last three seasons, but he now has to focus on his new job.
He said: “We’re not professional sportsmen and I do have a full time job, so work has to dictate cricket rather than the other way round, which is regrettable.
“I would have loved to have continued the captaincy and been available for all six Championship games, but I’m in full time work and sometimes life takes over.
“I’ve got a really close relationship with Bryan Jones, the chairman of selectors, and I would like to thank him for his efforts and help while I’ve been captain. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. We’ve been transparent with each other throughout and he’s been understanding about the situation.
“I’ve been really passionate about the role. There’s unfortunately no silverware to show for the last three years and ultimately that’s probably what you get judged on, however I feel there’s certainly been a lot of progress.”
Leach added he wished Carrasco well as the county’s new captain.
“Joe’s going to bring a different approach,” he said. “He’s been a very consistent performer over the last couple of seasons and he’s calm and composed.
“He will have a different style of leading people and I think he’s going to do a very good job. I wish Joe all the very best. He’s a brilliant player. His innings last Sunday was testament to just how composed he is. Joe inherits a really good group of players and quite a senior squad of seasoned performers for Shropshire and at club level.”
As for his own availability, Shifnal opening batsman Leach added: “I’ll certainly be unavailable for the first two matches and from there we’ll have to manage it match by match, to see if I’m available and how it fits in with Joe’s plans.
“I can’t unfortunately predict work commitments at this stage for my first few months in the new job. I’m hoping to be available after the first two games, but we’ll see how it goes.”