Jack Leach and why you should never pick your saviours

England lost to Bangladesh. There has to be a reason for it and it has to be that they picked the wrong players. One obvious area in which England were inferior was the spin department. Last season Jack Leach took more wickets than the spinners who played in the last Test, therefore he is the solution. Get him on the plane to India.

There’s a train of logic there, but there are also a few assumptions. The main one is that there is a way England could have won. The series was close enough that it’s probably true on this occasion, but people tend to conclude much the same thing even when their side is on the receiving end of a complete shellacking. Magic bullets are easy to identify when you can’t go back in time to fire them.

Jack Leach appears to be considered just such a projectile by a number of people, so if you’ll permit us, we’d like to quickly run through the ‘Jack Leach as saviour’ scenario and make a couple of points.

The first point is that even if he performed better for England than Adil Rashid, Gareth Batty or Zafar Ansari, it is questionable whether things would be much different. ‘Better’ does not equate to ‘the answer’.

The second point relates to Leach’s performance in county cricket and his likely impact on Indian pitches. Leach was not actually the most successful spin bowler in the first division of the County Championship last season. He took 65 wickets, but Warwickshire’s Jeetan Patel took 69.

Patel is by almost any measure the superior bowler. Leach had a good season, but Patel has been reeling them off one after another. He is older, more experienced and succeeded in 2016 without quite so much assistance from the surfaces on which he played.

Conveniently, Jeetan Patel has just toured India with New Zealand. He played two Tests and took six wickets at 48.66. R Ashwin took 16 wickets in those two matches.

For this winter at least, it probably makes sense to keep Jack Leach in the freezer. At least then we all get to retain something to cling to.

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22 Appeals

  1. “Six wickets at 48.66” – that sounds suspiciously like one of those “you can prove anything with statistics” arguments to me.

    England have just unearthed a brilliant young spinner. Eligibility criteria might need a bit of work though.

  2. Test cricketers in glasses though… now that would be something.

  3. In other news, Pakistan are Pakistanning. Good to know, during Bangladesh’s meteoric rise, that some things never change.

    • 78.6
      Bishoo to Mohammad Amir, OUT, Hilarious action but for Pakistan it can be tragic-comic. First of all Amir has taken long-on on when trying to save a Test. Roston Chase puts in a sensational effort at long-on. It is high, to his right, he takes it one-handed, but as he is coming down he realises he will hit the rope. Before he touches the rope he lets the ball go, back into the field of play. And now the comedy starts. Amir, who has been admiring his shot, now starts running. He is going to be caught short anyway, but for good effect he loses his bat too. And the throw from Chase is perfect, right beside the stumps. Holder collects it, and gets the run-out. Amir had actually begun to walk to Wahab to knock gloves after what he clearly thought was a six. And then he got the shock and began to run’

      Another proud tradition continued.

  4. I am still pondering Bayliss’s cryptic comment on Ballance, from memory “Gary’s got a couple of good balls”. Is this a valid selection criterion?

  5. If Jack Leach is English cricket’s “something to cling to”, we really are jiffed.

  6. Of course, some of us felt all along that Ollie Rayner is currently the “vastly experienced spinner of choice”, not Gareth Batty.

    It is extremely rare in England for spinners to go head to head on a raging bunsen, enabling us to assess how they might perform, relatively speaking, in southern Asian conditions.

    When Ollie Rayner and Gareth Batty last went head-to-head thus…

    …this happened:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/593519.html

    #justsaying #flyollieoutrightnow #justwindingyouallup

    In truth, surely the failure on this Asian tour so far has been far more a failure of batting than a failure of bowling.

    Certainly in terms of disappointment more batting than bowling, as I didn’t expect world class from the spinners, but I did expect something closer to world class from several batsmen. They need to demonstrate their class early on in the India series. With more runs on the board to play with, this England bowling attack might strangely start to look far less shabby.

    • King Cricket

      November 1, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      We knew the spin bowling weakness already. The weakness batting against spin was perhaps suspected, but less obvious. People will throw all sorts of names around in the coming months, but it seems to us largely a systemic failure.

      They may actually have resolved it already with spin playing a much bigger part in the 2016 season, but there’s a lag.

    • Perhaps if the batters scored more runs, Captain Cook would be less panic-sticken every time the opposition gets a boundary.

    • 100% agree with this. If Rashid had some runs to play with he could have bowled much better. We know he’s going to go for 3.5/4 an over but what he needs is the safety net his batsmen should be providing for him.
      The fact that Cook had no one at all in front of the bat when we opened the bowling with spin is quite unhelpful for the spinners.
      If Jack Leach or Ollie Raynor were to tour those guys would be scared to bowl a bad ball through fear of Cook putting everyone on the fence.
      Runs and good captaincy will get the most out of these spinners.

  7. Ishant Sharma’s back! As in, he’s been included in the India test squad etc etc. Rohit Sharma’s out. To be replaced by Nohit, Bohit and Mohit Sharma. India have also lost both their openers before a ball is bowled. Quite a start for England – maybe it won’t be such a chastening experience after all.

    • Hardik Pandya is in the Test squad! It’s like they want to lose the series. This is shaping up to be worse than 2012.

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