Left-armer Jack Leach has spoken of his determination to become England’s leading spin bowler on the back of an impressive showing in the first two instalments of the three-Test series against the West Indies. (England 21/20, Draw 9/5, West Indies 16/5 – Match Betting).
After draws in the opening two encounters, the potentially decisive final meeting gets underway on Thursday in Grenada and Leach, topping the wicket-taking figures with 11 in a batting-friendly series, is welcoming his increased involvement following sparing opportunities with the ball during the 4-0 Ashes tour defeat.
Last week’s Kensington Oval Test saw Leach (11/4 England Top Wicket Taker – 1st Inns) break Tony Lock’s six-decade-old record for the most deliveries contributed by an Englishman in a single match (94.5). His Caribbean figures are a vast improvement on a disappointing spell in Australia, kicked off by 13 wicketless overs for the concession of 102 runs in Brisbane – but the Taunton native views the experience a valuable lesson in resilience.
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“Not a good moment,” he said of his outing at the Gabba. “But sometimes the worst thing you can do is just sit in your room and stew about it. I trained the next day after the game – let’s do something about it.
“Australia was a really tough trip for everyone but I did feel like I learned a lot and I came back really motivated and buzzing. I want to reach my ceiling as a cricketer, basically.”
Leach’s position as England’s first-choice spinner looks relatively secure and while the surfaces in Antigua and Barbados offered little movement, Grenada’s livelier turf may prove the tonic needed for the Somerset man to bowl the touring side to victory.
“Before, I’ve felt a lot of pressure on my own individual game and it was just about trying to keep my place in the team,” Leach added. “You can kind of forget that you are contributing to something bigger. It almost takes the pressure off your own game.”
“I’m trying to become the frontline spinner for England and I really see the last couple of weeks as really valuable for my development on that road.”
The main obstacle barring England’s road to a series win remains formidable West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite, against whom Leach sent down more than 200 first-innings deliveries before clinching a dismissal (5/2 West Indies Top Run Scorer).
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