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Pakistan v England 2022

Jack Leach has overcome hurdle after hurdle and now holds a significant position in the history of English spinners

Jack Leach took his 100th Test wicket for England
by Cameron Ponsonby 3 minute read

Jack Leach became the twentieth spinner to take 100 wickets for England with an excellent spell in Multan, finishing with 4-98.

It is no small achievement to take 100 Test wickets. Of the 709 players to have played Test cricket for the men’s England team, only 49 have managed the feat. Of those, 20 have been spinners. And of those, 13 have been left-armers.

For Leach it is an achievement in more ways than one, his health struggles in New Zealand in 2019 were well documented and he has often had to battle for his place in the side. Following his illness, Leach lost his place in the side to Dom Bess – widely regarded as a less threatening spinner but a more capable lower order batter. After regaining his place in the side, Leach had a tough tour of Australia last winter and his place was once more under threat with Moeen Ali briefly ‘unretiring’ and Matt Parkinson banging on the door.


Leach suffered from a lack of clarity in his role. Was he in the team to attack or defend? Was he going to be picked next week or left out? The only certainty he had was uncertainty. That all changed with the appointment of Stokes as captain who all but banned boundary riders off Leach and told him to go on the all-out attack.

The change in attitude resulted in Leach’s first 10-wicket haul for England at Headingley this year. As having gone 18 months without an international five-for, he’d take two in one game against New Zealand to finish with match figures of 10-166. It was a reversal of fortune for Leach, who in the first match of the summer had ruled himself out on the first morning with concussion before having the game of his career in the very next outing.

In all, Leach’s career average for England sits at 33.75, with four five-fors and an excellent economy rate of 2.93. Under Stokes as captain, he averages 40.17 whilst his economy is slightly higher at 3.17. A rise that is no doubt in part a result of the more attacking fields he has bowled to.

His record at home vs away is lopsided. Of his 31 Tests, 12 have come at home and 19 away and he has bowled almost three times as many overs away from home (870) as he has on familiar ground (300). At home he has taken 28 wickets at an average of 32.71 and away from home he has taken 74 wickets at 34.14.

Whilst Leach’s career numbers as well as those he has under Stokes seem unremarkable in isolation, within the context of history he stands strong.

In particular, his fourth innings record is exceptional. 32 of his 102 wickets have come in the final innings of the match and his average is a fantastic 18.81. For context Graeme Swann, arguably England’s greatest ever spinner, has a fourth innings average of 27.52.

Overall, since 1980, of English spinners to take more than 50 wickets he has the third best average behind only Swann and Nick Cook. His career average is better than that of Monty Panesar (34.71), Moeen Ali (36.66), Phil Tufnell (37.68), Adil Rashid (39.83) and Ashley Giles (40.60). Each of those bowlers hold a significant position in the history of spinners in the country. And Leach will be no different.

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