Jack Leach: Great chance to test ourselves against India

Bowling in India is as tough as it gets for a visiting spinner but Jack Leach is looking forward to the challenge.

File picture of Jack Leach.   -  AP

Among the biggest challenges for a visiting team to be playing in India is coping with the pressures of playing in front of huge crowds.

And now, with the host association deciding to allow 50 per cent of the stadium capacity to be filled for the second Test here, England left-arm spinner Jack Leach, in an interactive chat here on Monday, was guarded with his response.

“We all want to play in front of crowds. Obviously it needs to be safe, and we don’t want to be adding to a problem [Covid-19] that’s affecting the whole world,” Leach said.

READ: BCCI, host associations deserve pat on the back

“So if it’s safe and if it’s good, then great. We’d love to play in front of crowds as soon as possible,” he added.

Asked about England’s spectacular Test series triumph in India, 2012, and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar’s successful strategy of being quicker through the air, Leach responded: “Monty bowled very well but everyone has a different optimum speed and mine’s different. And you got to be yourself when you bowl.”

The bespectacled Leach appears more an accomplished professor than a cricketer but beneath his soft exterior lies a tough competitor.

He battled life-threatening sepsis in New Zealand 2020, had to fly back home and be off the game till he recovered completely. He kept the faith going and rewards awaited his belief and resilience.

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Leach scalped five and four in the second innings of the first and second Tests at Galle recently, bringing his subtle variations to the fore. “Playing in Sri Lanka was excellent preparation before taking on India.”

READ: India and England players clear Covid-19 tests, to train from Tuesday

Calling India a quality side, Leach observed, “I feel like it’s just a great chance for all of us to test ourselves against what on paper is probably the best side in the world. But they have right-handers and I may have a role to play.”

On the challenges of  Covid-19 and days of quarantine that eats into practise, Leach quipped, “I have been bowling a few in the mirror.” 

Leach has 44 wickets in 12 Tests but he will be remembered for the most precious 1 not out in Test history.

No. 11 Leach, oozing resistance amid excruciating tension, battled 60 minutes as an inspired Ben Stokes powered England to an incredible victory adding 73 for the last wicket in the Ashes Test at Leeds, 2019.

This Leach is tough. Appearances can be deceptive.

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