Jack Leach ‘very excited’ about Australia trip despite doubts over the Ashes with England stars facing four MONTHS without seeing families… as spinner offers support to team-mate Ben Stokes
- The Ashes could be postponed with England players threatening to not go
- Strict Covid-19 rules in Australia mean players’ families could not travel
- Jack Leach though is excited over the prospect of a winter trip to Australia
- The England spinner also offered his support to team-mate Ben Stokes
- The all-rounder has taken an indefinite break to ‘prioritise his mental wellbeing’
England spinner Jack Leach has said he would be ‘very excited’ by the prospect of a trip to Australia – even as doubts remain over the viability of this winter’s Ashes.
A joint statement on Friday by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association appeared to imply that England players would refuse to tour Australia unless they were given assurances that family members could join them.
But Leach, who is itching to return to England’s Test side against India at Trent Bridge on Wednesday after being omitted for the two-match series against New Zealand, was more enthusiastic about the prospect.
Jack Leach is still ‘very excited’ about the prospect of going to Australia for the Ashes
The Ashes tour is under threat due to families, as it stands, being unable to travel to Australia
‘It’s something I’d be very excited about, Australia in Australia,’ he said. ‘It’s the ultimate Test and something you grow up looking at and thinking, ”Wow it’s amazing.” For me it will be an exciting thing.’
Leach’s 16-match Test career has been strung across more than three years because of illness, injury and selection issues. And Ben Stokes’s late withdrawal from the squad to protect both his mental wellbeing and injured finger could be bad news for his hopes of playing in Nottingham.
When Stokes is in the middle order, he forms part of a five-man attack, which allows room for a frontline spinner. Without him, as Leach discovered against New Zealand, England are tempted to stick to four seamers, plus the part-time off-breaks of Joe Root.
Leach has offered his support to teammate Ben Stokes (R) who is taking an indefinite break
But with news of Stokes’s decision still fresh, Leach spoke on Saturday for the whole squad: ‘All the lads are behind Ben, and supporting him where we can. He has shown courage and bravery to prioritise his mental health. He is a focal part of our team and we will miss him.
‘His priority is to take some time out from the game to get better. We can’t wait to welcome him back in the near future and winning games of cricket for England.’
Leach must now hope that his success in India earlier in the year, when he was England’s leading wicket-taker with 18 during a 3-1 defeat, will persuade the selectors that his left-arm angle could prove useful once more against India’s battery of right-handed batsmen.
‘I was frustrated not to play against New Zealand,’ he said. ‘They were wickets on which I felt I could have had a positive impact on the game. I took belief from the India tour. I know I can bowl at these guys and do well.’
India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant came at Leach during the first Test at Chennai in February
Leach has also played his first two games of T20 for Somerset this season, taking five wickets at 12 apiece – a decision that may stand him in good stead if India’s batsmen come at him, as wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant did to devastating effect during the first Test at Chennai in February.
‘It’s about picking up skills and reading batters when they come after you, and using that to help you, even in the Test match game,’ he said. ‘In that first game in India when Pant was coming after me, I felt like I might have a little bit more nous in those situations if I’d played more one-day cricket.
‘I’ve had a focus this summer on being around those white-ball teams, and at least practising white ball in the nets, experiencing batters coming after me, and gaining a few more skills that way. I think it can help me in all formats.’