Jack Leach ruled out but no end to India’s worries as Bashir, Lawrence gear up | Cricket


Jack Leach, the most experienced spinner in England’s squad has been ruled out of the second Test against India. The left-arm spinner hurt his left knee during the first Test in Hyderabad. He played through pain, bowling 26 overs in the first innings and 10 in the second essay despite bruising and swelling around the joint.

England's Jack Leach(ANI )
England’s Jack Leach(ANI )

He was seen limping and didn’t take part in the team’s training session on Wednesday and was seen receiving treatment from the physio on the sidelines.

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“He’s a tough kid, Leachy. So, I am not sure. You never know with Jack. You can never really write him off. We’ll see how he pulls up in a couple of days,” opener Zak Crawley said at the media conference.

Leach picked up only two wickets in the series opener which England won by 28 runs but the 32-year-old is the leader of their spin department. Now that Leach is not there in Visakhapatnam, it leaves England’s spin attack with a collective experience of three Tests – Rehan Ahmed (2) and Tom Hartley (1).

Hartley, with a seven-wicket haul on debut, proved that experience is not the only parameter to judge the English spinners. The spin-friendly pitches and the vulnerabilities of the Indian batters against finger spinners make England’s spin attack a potent one.

This was one of the primary reasons why head coach Brendon McCullum said England are considering fielding four spinners in Visakhapatnam. But who will replace Jack Leach? There are two direct options.

Shoaib Bashir: The off-spinner from Somerset is the front-runner. Bashir was in the news before even the tour began for all the wrong reasons. He couldn’t come to India with the rest of the English players for no fault of his. His visa clearance didn’t come on time, which ruled him out of the Hyderabad Test. He arrived in India on Sunday and watched his side pull off a miracle win. In his first training session with the squad in Visakhapatnam, he looked impressive. Considering the Bazball management of Stokes and McCullum, his six first-class matches would hardly become a hurdle if they do decide to hand him the Test cap. The biggest factor that could go in his favour is the Indian batters’ strange weakness against off-spinners. Joe Root appeared threatening whenever he came on to bowl in Hyderabad. They have had their troubles against Moeen Ali in the past Even Australia debutant Todd Murphy enjoyed a great time against them last year. Their collective average of 33 is one of the worst among top teams against off-spinners.

Dan Lawrence: If England are looking for experience and some batting strength then he’s the man. Lawrence last played a Test back in 2021, before the Bazball era began but in him, England have a spin-bowling all-rounder who can do what Axar Patel does for India. Lawrence is a solid No.7 or No.8 and his height will always make it difficult for the Indian batters. In his 11 Tests, Lawrence has a batting average of 29 and a bowling average of 32.



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