CricketJack Leach Says That He Belongs To The Team More Confidentially
Post image
Jack Leach feels like he now “belongs” in the England Test team as he makes his first trip back to New Zealand following his hospitalisation and subsequent worry for his life during the 2019 tour.

The left-arm spinner, who has Crohn’s disease, was hospitalised in New Zealand four years ago after contracting sepsis as a result of food poisoning. He has previously admitted that he first believed he wouldn’t survive.

Jack Leach, who is fully fit, finished 2022 as the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 46, one fewer than Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon and South Africa seamer Kagiso Rabada, who both had 47.

But when he arrived in Hamilton, the location for England’s two-day warm-up this week before the first Test in Tauranga from February 16, he was reminded of his previous issues.

Leach’s average for Test wickets in 2022 was 38.28, and the spinner is aiming to bring it down. A two-day match against the pink ball will serve as England’s warm-up instead of the initial four-day warm-up versus a New Zealand XI.

The second and final matchup, a regular day game in Wellington starting on February 23, will come after the first Test, a day-night affair against the Black Caps, which will take place a week later.

Since Ben Stokes was named captain and Brendon McCullum was named head coach, England has won nine out of ten Test matches, with the most recent victory coming in a 3-0 victory against Pakistan just before Christmas.

Jack Leach said: “I always felt like cricket was an individual sport within a team, but this feels like such a team. It’s something I feel very lucky to have experienced because it’s a lot more enjoyable.

“It’s been probably the most important thing for me, that backing and feeling like I belong.

“I know at some point someone might come along who’s better and takes my place, and that will be absolutely fair enough.

“But I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can and do as much as I can for the team.”