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The poor returns of Jack Leach and Dom Bess as spinners in Sri Lanka would be of concern to England’s captain Joe Root

Jack Leach and Dom Bess need to come to life quickly in the slow lane – and Joe Root should be concerned after becoming the first English spinners in 20 YEARS of failing to take a wicket in Sri Lanka bowling on their own property

  • Jack Leach and Dom Bess’s second test attempts are more disturbing than the first
  • In twenty years, England has not thrown Sri Lanka away at home without a spin wicket
  • Both spinners need to improve things ahead of England vs India big runs

Going from your usual walk-on role to that of the main character isn’t easy, as Dom Bess and Jack Leach will attest.

Usually sitting in the wings for parts of green home summers, you are expected to be at the center of the parched earth of foreign lands. That’s the life of an English spinner.

Both lacked rhythm to enter this series – this is Leach’s fourth premier performance in 14 months – but their displays so far in the second test have arguably raised more concerns than the first.

Jack Leach has only played four premier cricket matches in the past 14 months and it shows

Jack Leach has only played four premier cricket matches in the past 14 months and it shows

Spinner Dom Bess (center) admitted that his five-forward in the first test was something of a gimme

Spinner Dom Bess (center) admitted that his five-forward in the first test was something of a gimme

Spinner Dom Bess (center) admitted that his five-forward in the first test was something of a gimme

Yes, this was a more classic test field and bowlers had to work hard. But for twenty years, an English team had fired Sri Lanka in their own circumstances without a single wicket falling around.

In his own words, Bess’s five-for was a gimme on the opening day of this series and while his bowling has tightened, there are troubling signs leading up to arguably the most difficult away game against India next month. His first two overs started yesterday with a drag down that was hit to the boundary rider at the deep point and a full throw that was also worked for one.

Ideally, a spinner wants to bowl to the same batsman, not allowing easy shot rotation. Leach was entrusted with 16 overs on day two – twice as many as Bess – but only two were virgins. Not that working with border protection is unusual. England’s most prolific off-spinner, Graeme Swann used to set a deep field and then bring it in.

Comparisons to Graeme Swann (above) do off-spinners like Bess little favors given his age

Comparisons to Graeme Swann (above) do off-spinners like Bess little favors given his age

Comparisons to Graeme Swann (above) do off-spinners like Bess little favors given his age

Comparisons to Swann do off-spinners like Bess little favors, but a note of their different lines is interesting: the former preferred the Australian outside the stump, bringing both edges of the bat into play, while the latter tended has to ‘be right’.

On Saturday, the Sri Lankans comfortably took him from stump to leg. Frankly, Bess is only 23.

One of the mistakes this week was that their adjustments came too late. Both men responded to the need to get the ball to the surface during the first Test by using the same tactics here when flight and cheating had served them better.

It was noted that while Leach was up at 60 miles per hour, his fellow slow left-poorer Lasith Embuldeniya was willing to air the ball, the reduced speed that gave him time to grab and turn.

International cricket is a tough school, but it will only get tougher against India’s elite batsmen and skipper Joe Root knows that.

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