Jack Leach: England spinner’s patience pays off as he proves he belongs on the Test stage with 10-wicket haul at Headingley

Jack Leach joined Graeme Swann as the only England spinners to win 10 at Headingley since Derek Underwood 50 years ago; Watch England vs India live on Friday from 9.30am on Sky Sports Cricket, with play kicking off at 10.30am

Jack Leach’s test run so far has been an exercise in patience and persistence.

Having to wait over four years from debut for a first Test of five for at home, the left-arm spinner followed up with five more in the second inning of England’s third win over New Zealand at Headingley.

It was a fitting reward for a fine performance on the ball, and at the perfect time, as his place in the squad was beginning to come under increasing scrutiny after a difficult ash winter followed by a tough tour of the Indies. Westerners and a concussion on the first day of the game. New Zealand series.

When Leach was helped off the pitch at Lord’s, it seemed his on-and-off international career had come to an abrupt halt once again, and perhaps for the last time, as Lancashire’s leg-spinning young Matt Parkinson replaced him impressively. as a concussion stand-in for the 31-year-old, and with Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid both declaring their interest in potential trial returns.

Leach has battled Crohn’s disease since the age of 14, while suffering a dangerous bout of sepsis in New Zealand in early 2020, and his “at risk” status often saw him a casualty in the Covid landscape that the cricket and the world. sport was played in the next two years.

But England, and the new management team of captain Ben Stokes and manager Brendon McCullum, showed faith in Leach, immediately bringing him into the fold for the second Test at Trent Bridge, being rewarded for doing so a week and a half later.

Leach topped 70-plus working overs in the third Test, sending 20 maidens and taking 10 wickets for 166 runs, joining Graeme Swann as the only England spinners to take 10-for at Headingley since Derek Underwood 50 years ago.

Swann, part of sky sports coverage of the second test at Trent Bridge, prophetically said that Leach had the ability to be “world-class”, believing that the move to the international game would be “all mental”.

Swann, who took 255 wickets in 60 Tests for England, said: “I think Leach, like a lot of spinners in England, has a chance to be world-class, because I don’t think there’s that much of a gap between what you do in top-tier Cricket and international.

“And I know because I’ve done it myself. It’s all mental, it’s all in your head.

“I’d love to sit down and convince him that he’s more than capable of doing it on the biggest stage.”

Jack Leach walks off the field at Lord’s after suffering a concussion on the first morning of the first Test.

He added: “I think it’s very important that Captain Stokes is someone who shows faith in the spinners, and I think he will. He’s a very forward captain.

“With a decent boss and coach who are willing to attack and make you part of the team, everything will work out.”

And so it turned out at Headingley, Stokes lobbed the ball to Leach as early as the 13th of the match, with the bold move immediately reaping dividends with Leach taking a wicket on his first ball, Will Young out lbw.

“The captain just keeps throwing it, keeps pushing it into the pressure,” McCullum he told Sky Sports After the match.

Leach rose to the occasion and, glowing with a newfound confidence and belief, displayed excellent control during the Test and further cunning, with the former England batsman. Mark Butcher talking about the additional “drift, pitch and yaw” the left arm spinner encountered during its stellar spin.

Leach acknowledged that the endorsement he received from Stokes and McCullum is behind his man-of-the-match performance.

“Stokes’ confidence in his decisions, but also in us as 11 guys, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Leach said. sky sports.

And regarding the new head coach, he added: “A very positive guy and he speaks very well and very clearly in moments where we are maybe getting a little testy or insecure.

“He makes us very confident and completely clear about what we’re trying to do.”

Leach has never been more confident in his role in this England team and now he brings his newfound confidence to the sternest test of an international spinner’s credentials, a meeting with India at Edgbaston on Friday.

Stokes promised England will go out with the same positive mindset in last year’s rescheduled fifth Test, with Leach likely once again “pushed into the pressure” as the hosts look to level the series.

If his performance at Headingley is anything to go by, Leach will be ready by the time the captain looks his way.

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