OSWESTRY’S top-order batsman Joe Carrasco will succeed Steve Leach as the county captain for Shropshire, it was announced on Friday.

Leach has skippered the side for the last three years, but now has restricted availability after securing a new job.

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 opens their three-day championship campaign against Dorset at Shrewsbury later this month.

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.

“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.

“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.”

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 said: “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.”