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Jack Leach admits ‘frustration’ over England omission for New Zealand Tests

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Spinner looking for “as many games as possible” having not played home Test since 2019

Jack Leach has spoken of his frustrations at being left out of the Test side against New Zealand earlier in the summer, as well as a bit-part role in the England set-up that has only seem him play five home Tests since his debut during the winter of 2017-18.

England were beaten 1-0 by New Zealand – their first Test series defeat at home since 2014 – after relying on a four-seamer attack supported by Joe Root’s part-time offspin. With England’s main seam-bowling allrounder options, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, either injured or not considered for selection after returning from the IPL, the question of how to balance the side at Lord’s and Edgbaston meant Leach sitting out on both occasions.

Having been England’s most-successful bowler over the winter, taking 28 wickets at 31.14 in Sri Lanka and India, he returned to the sidelines back in home conditions. Leach also missed out on selection last summer, with Dom Bess preferred in the spinner’s role, and it is now almost two years since his last Test appearance in England, during the 2019 Ashes.

England’s stated aim under Chris Silverwood, who took over at head coach in 2019, has been to play more of their home cricket on true surfaces, in order to improve performances overseas. But Leach has had little opportunity to practice the holding role that would then enable a more attacking brief later in the game.

“I think I said to Spoons it was frustrating, because I want to be playing as many games as possible at that level,” Leach said. “I guess the thing I’ve struggled with over the past couple of years has been that momentum of playing games, and feeling like you’re learning from those experiences. You can do as much as you want in the nets, but you want to put that into a game situation. There are things you don’t get in the nets that you only get in games.

“That was the frustrating thing. I understood it from a team point of view, in terms of the balance of the team. If it had been three seamers and a spinner, that would have been the first time I’d have played in that balance of team. Even at Somerset we’re playing with four seamers, and even a batter who bowls seam, Tom Abell, or Tom Lammonby, who bowls left-arm seam. My experience hasn’t been in that balance of team, so having not done that before, it would have been a huge challenge which I’d have loved to do, but I understand why they want four seamers, especially in England.

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