Jack Leach, who took a 10-for in the third Test to put England in the threshold of a series-sweep against New Zealand, has come out raving about the aggressive leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
“You realise teams I have played in, the way I have thought, a lot of decisions are made around negativity. A lot of four or five-day games you give up on the win quite early but [under Stokes and McCullum] it feels like you are always pushing for that win, so there is never really too bad a situation. It is very special to be a part of it,” Leach said at the end of day 4, with England needing just 113 runs more to seal a 3-0 clean sweep.
Personally, too, Leach has been in great form after missing out on the first Test after suffering a concussion during fielding on the opening day’s play.
“I’ve never seen it or felt it this good. Stokesy has confidence in his decisions and also in us as 11 blokes,” Leach said.
A top class performance 👏 🔴
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 26, 2022
Watching him on air for the BBC commentators panel was Mooed Ali, who has already spoken about how he is keeping his Test doors open for selection after a call from McCullum. He had earlier announced his retirement from the longest format.
“I’m really pleased for him. He deserves that for what’s happened to him in his career,’ Ali told BBC Test Match Special.
Leach had become a bit of a cult hero among young English fans after his incredible stonewalling knock of 1 in the last-wicket partnership of 73 runs with Ben Stokes in 2019 Ashes that sealed one of the greatest Test heist of all times. But Leach has fought through various setbacks to his career – from health to his bowling action – to play 25 Tests.
Because of Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, he is most vulnerable to infections. In 2020, he had Sepsis, an infection that made him fear for his life as he lay on hospital bed for days. He also had to remodel his action as his action was deemed illegal in internal tests run by England cricket board in 2016. Leach has gone from playing for England one year, to be without a county contract the next. He has even held job parking trolleys at a supermarket.
Moeen Ali would also dwell on the changes that the new setup have brought into the team.
“It’s amazing how within two games the mindset of the fans and players has changed completely. In this situation maybe four months ago, we’d all be thinking ‘we’d be three down by now’ and that this game could be over tonight. It’s amazing how just a change of attitude has changed so much,” Ali said.
Leach would have made his England debut in 2016 but was hit by the controversy over his bowling action. It was at a regular internal test at the high performance center at Loughborough that the left-arm spinner’s action came under radar. Leach was on a holiday in Portugal when Andy Flower, the then director of cricket, called him to give the bad news. Shock and embarrassment hit him. “I didn’t want to be called a cheat,” he would go on to say.
The start to his county stint too wasn’t without hiccups. After a particularly hot day at the cricket, he fainted and bashed his head in the bathroom, resulting in two fractures and concussion. He would pick up wickets but lose his county spot to George Dockrell or Piyush Chawla, the 2013-14 overseas player. Later, his battle for a place in the team was with his county team-mate Dom Bess and in England with Mooed Ali or Adil Rashid.