DANNY Leech has said one of his priorities after taking over as Cheshire captain is to develop a winning mentality.

The Oulton Park opening batsman, who returned to the fold last summer following an eight-year absence, will lead the county’s three-day side after Lee Dixon decided to stand down.

And the elements of what he wants are there already after they finished as runners-up to Berkshire in the Minor Counties Championship’s Western Division last season.

“To play at this level is a step up,” said Leech.

“For me, it’s about winning rather than simply playing and to do that it’s important to create an environment in which players feel comfortable.

“That’s been a constant in the best teams I’ve been part of.

“We’re here to win, and to be successful the guys we’re counting on can’t be looking over their shoulders in fear of losing their place.

“That’s not helpful culture to try and perform in.”

Leech was part of a Cheshire side that won the title in 2007, and so he knows what it takes to prevail.

The 36-year-old told the Guardian his first impression of the current crop of players last summer was wholly positive.

“I think it’s a great time to become involved again,” he added.

“We have a core of guys that have come together and really gelled as a group.

“That’s not to say there isn’t an opportunity for others to force their way into the reckoning, but it makes me optimistic already that we can be right in contention.

“We have momentum, and that’s important.

“Finishing second last year is a good sign, and something to build on. However it’s hard to tell how we’ll measure up against everybody else.”

With a higher number of games to play next season, Cheshire have appointed two captains.

Rick Moore, a former teammate of Leech at Little Budworth, will skipper the one-day team.

Leech, who started out at Winnington Park before moving to Oulton Park, said: “I’ve always been on the same page as Rick, and of course it’s an advantage we know each other and have played together.

“It’s an interesting way of approaching things, but I’m certain we can make it work.

“For me personally, it’s a proud moment to be taking on this role and I consider it a huge honour.

“I’ve said previously that I’ve considered myself a Cheshire supporter as much as a player, and to be given this opportunity is a privilege.”

Cheshire’s opening match in the Western Division is against Shropshire from Sunday, June 24.