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Say it isn't so: England could end up playing Jack Leach again

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14th December, 2021
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England captain Joe Root is daring Australia to continue their brazen assault on tweaker Jack Leach as he ponders recalling his most experienced pacemen for the second Ashes Test.

Root admits he has some “big decisions” about the make-up of his bowling attack for the day-night Test in Adelaide starting on Thursday.

Root must decide whether to recall fast men Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were both controversially overlooked for the series-opener in Brisbane which Australia won by nine wickets.

“We have obviously got some big decisions to make,” Root told reporters on Tuesday.

“One of the great things going into this Test match is both of them should be fit and ready to go.

“And with that amount of experience within your squad, it’s obviously exciting, so plenty of good options to choose from.”

Anderson – England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker with 632 victims, with Broad next-best with 524 scalps – is considered a certainty to play at Adelaide Oval.

But whether star allrounder Ben Stokes, who jarred a knee in the first Test, can deliver meaningful overs is another query for Root.


“We will find out in the next couple of days,” Root said of Stokes’ fitness.

“… Hopefully it is just something that he has shaken off now and we can see him back at full intensity and it gives us all options on the table.”

But after bowling just 12 of England’s 110 overs at the Gabba, Stokes played down the injury in his column for English newspaper The Mirror on Tuesday.

“People will have seen me rubbing my knee from time to time when I was in the field, but rest assured I’m fine,” he wrote.

“It is an old injury that flares up every now and again, but I know how to manage it.

“It just gets a little bit uncomfortable every now and again in and around my cartilage.

“But it just looks worse than it is by the way I try and get off it as soon as I can.”


Another conundrum is left-arm spinner Leach, who was thrashed for 1-102 from just 13 overs in Australia’s comprehensive win at the Gabba.

But Root said Leach, if picked for Adelaide, would be different proposition on a more spin-friendly pitch than in Brisbane.

“I am sure he will want to respond and he will want to get back into the series and have an impact,” he said.

“Some of the grounds that we will be going to from this point onwards should offer a lot more for him and bring spin into it as well.

“I don’t think it’s as straightforward as looking at that (Leach) as a concern.

“They (Australia) took an opportunity and played it pretty well – and most importantly is, if you get the opportunity again, if they try and do that on a wicket that is a but more responsive, then it brings him into the game even more.

“So you look at it from that point of view, spin it on its head as a positive and understand that it’s not always that easy to come at someone and take those options on.”