Sports, Cricket

Leach glad to repay ‘new’ England's faith with 10-wicket haul

Published : 27 Jun 2022 09:25 PM

Jack Leach hailed England's new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum for bolstering his self-belief after taking the first 10-wicket haul of his Test career on Sunday.

Leach's 25 matches as an international cricketer have been blighted by illness -- the left-arm spinner suffers from Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition -- injury and inconsistent selection.

And it somehow seemed typical of Leach's luck that when he was selected for his first Test on home soil in three years at the start of the New Zealand series, he suffered a concussion while fielding on the opening morning at Lord's.

Matt Parkinson was drafted in as emergency cover for that match but, significantly, the faith of all-rounder Stokes and McCullum, himself a former New Zealand captain, in Leach never faltered.

They picked him again for the second Test at Nottingham where Leach played his part in a five-wicket win that gave England an unassailable 2-0 lead in a three-match series over Test world champions New Zealand.

And by supporting Leach with attacking field settings that make it clear his main job is to take wickets rather than just contain the opposition, they have given the 31-year-old the chance to shine.

The fruits of that new approach have been evident during the series finale in Leeds where Leach took 5-100 in the first innings of the third Test only to top that with 5-66 on Sunday for a match haul of 10-166.