SOMERSET spinner Jack Leach is looking to settle some “unfinished business” with England Lions in Australia this winter.
Speaking exclusively to The Cricket Paper, Leach recalled his shock when routine testing before his first tour with the Lions last year detected a slight kink in his action, forcing him to undergo extensive remedial work in the UAE.
“I feel like I didn’t show completely what I could do because that was a dark time for me and the pressure probably was a bit too much with what I was trying to get right with my action.
“You’re playing at England Lions level, you’re desperate to impress, but you’re going through what was a small change, but in your head it’s a big thing. So, it’s the unknown and you want to make sure that it’s perfect and not knowing whether you’ve quite got it right. All those emotions made it difficult.”
Of real concern was how people would react when news emerged in the press, but Leach need not have worried, such was the public support. “It was that unknown of how it was going to go down and worried what you’ll get branded as – will you have the tag of being a cheat? Those are things that go through your head, but it’s important to remember how far along the way I was with making those changes by that stage.
“It wasn’t something I was trying to get any advantage from, it was just the way my arm went behind my body. It was a case of getting that right and then working closely with Chris Marshall, the ECB’s psychologist on how to deal with that mentally.
“I continued to work with him closely, because there’s been a few times during the season when it’s been on my mind, but I’ve come through it and towards the end of the season I really started to notice how much hard work I’ve put in and really saw the benefits from it.”
Leach believes the experience stands him in good stead for the future: “I feel a better bowler through going it, but I’d be lying if I said it’s been a stroll in the park. There’s been some dark moments, but I do believe that that makes you a stronger character and I’m hoping that when my opportunity does come, I’ll be a lot more ready.
“What I’m really excited about is where I am now with my action and where I am mentally. I feel like I’ve got a bit of unfinished business with the Lions and want to show what I can do.”
Leach goes into a Lions tour for the second winter running as England’s leading spinner. He has taken 116 Championship wickets in the past two seasons and was named in The Cricket Paper’s Division One team of the year.
“I would have loved to have been in the Ashes squad, but I’m not seeing it as a negative. I’m going to be over there, that’s the message that’s been given to me. I want to be ready if required and I’ll be doing everything to make myself known. We’ve got a couple of days in Brisbane and Perth bowling at the guys before the Tests, so I’ll have some good contact time with them, and a chance to pick their brains and keep developing my game. Hopefully my chance isn’t too far away.”
While he has grown to relish the role as Somerset’s go-to man on turning surfaces at Taunton, he feels having so many overs under his belt benefits him when bowling on less helpful pitches.
He is looking forward to developing new skills in Australia: “Especially where I’ve got to with my action, all feeling really strong, I’m feeling more in a place to learn the craft of bowling in Australia with my action how I want it. I’m excited for those challenges.”
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