England is again confronted with an injury with Jack Leach, a doubt for the Sri Lanka tour because the spinner is struggling with a calf problem
- The loss of Mark Wood’s extreme pace is a blow to the bowling plans for the tour
- Jofra Archer has already been excluded due to a difficult elbow problem
- But Jack Leach is seen as the focal point of the attack, given the circumstances
- The left poorer of Somerset grabbed the calf’s navel after the tour through South Africa
England has a potentially larger injury problem than that of Mark Wood for the Sri Lankan tour with senior spinner Jack Leach behind a calf problem.
Although the loss of Woods extreme pace is a blow to the bowling plans for the two-test tour, especially given the absence of co-shocked fast bowler Jofra Archer, Leach is seen as the focal point of the attack given the expected spin-friendly conditions.
The slow left poorer of Somerset grabbed the left calf muscle after returning from the tour of South Africa midway through the test series, after not having returned to the physical levels required for international selection after a miserable catalog of illness.
Jack Leach is seen as the focal point of the attack, given the spider-friendly conditions
It led to 28-year-old bowling in the nets at both the Loughborough Academy of the ECB and his district base in Taunton in an attempt to prove his suitability.
An England spokesperson told Sportsmail that they remained convinced that Leach would “be on the plane on Monday evening”, but the development casts doubt on whether one of the spin triumvirates who had 48 out of 60 wickets in the 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka claimed This was 16 months ago.
Leach contributed 18, the same number as Moeen Ali, while Adil Rashid came in with 12. Moeen and Rashid did not make themselves available for selection earlier this month.
That leaves England behind with the 10-cap Leach, his provincial colleague Dom Bess, who impressed in doubling his Test appearances to four in the recent 3-1 win over South Africans, and the uncapped Lancashire leg spinner Matt Parkinson’s as the front line options for this tour.
Mark Wood is excluded from England’s two-test tour through Sri Lanka with a tension injury
Behind them, the revolving county cricket cupboard looks bald. Liam Dawson, the most obvious like-for-like replacement for Leach, claimed only 10 Championship wickets last summer on 53.8 runs each for Hampshire.
England is optimistic that it will not come to that, and with the first test in Galle starting on March 19, there is room to be cautious about Leach’s return to action. Two warm-up games precede the short series.
Similarly, however, he played no more than three months because of his ailments – a fight to recover after contracting sepsis on the New Zealand tour in November was followed by an attack of gastroenteritis in South Africa. As a patient with Crohn’s disease, Leach has a weak immune system.
So those competitions would be a good opportunity to test his endurance in hot and humid conditions, as well as grooving his bowling for a series in which he was ready for a lead role.