In praise of Jack Leach, England’s finest number 11 batsman

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Ben Stokes being visibly blown away by Jack Leach’s brilliance (via YouTube)

No batsman can do it without the other guy. At Headingley, the other guy was Jack Leach.

Over at Cricket 365 we’re talking about Newt from Aliens and asking whether Leach is already England’s greatest number 11 batsman.


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  1. I said it on the Graun (and got a snotty reply along the lines of ‘smart people like me invest in Test cricket’) that one of the things that made it special is that someone who understood top-level sport but had never seen any cricket could have looked at what was going on and, despite the complexity of cricket, understood it instantly. You’d know exactly what each side was trying to accomplish. The pitcher who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat trying to get on base so the guy after him can hit the home run. The full-back donning the gloves after the goalie has been sent off. The prop caught out of position and expected to tackle the rampaging winger. It was sport at its most visceral, and Leach was at the heart of it.

    1. YES. There’s an argument that the best kind of sport is when two sportspeople who are the best in the world at their respective trades go head-to-head. But there is another kind of sport which is also brilliant to watch, when an elite professional sportsperson is forced to sport the sport at which he is no better, possibly substantially worse, than a rank amateur – but pitted against someone who is still best in the world. That can be a short-lived piece of sadistic viewing if you’re just in it to see someone brought down to earth, but if there’s something big riding on it, and the object of the inferior player is realistically attainable – you don’t need to smash sixes, just keep the ball out, run when appropriate, don’t get caught, survive – then the tension is really palpable. What is great about the Steach partnership is its perfect blend of both kind of spectacle (elite against elite, elite against actually-elite-at-a-completely-different-discipline-and-really-not-so-great-at-this-one) as well as a pair of actual spectacles. Wonderful. (And a note to the National League: may you never, ever bring in the Designated Hitter.)

  2. I was at a local cricket game in Manchester (Stand CC vs…someone, I forget who) when Jimmy was smashing India for 81. My brother in law and I would get the occasional update when we went for pints:
    “What did Jimmy get out for?”
    “He’s still going mate”
    “Huh. Fancy that.”
    I stole a pint glass that day that has grooves for 4 fingers and a thumb. Best theft of my life to date. Sorry if anyone here is from Stand CC, I’ll send a couple quid along some day for the glass.

    1. Was it a Holt’s beer glass? I think they used to do them with the grooves. It’s a good design.

      1. Of course it was JW Lees – I’ve had several pints from such a receptacle in Rain Bar.

      2. Is JW Lees related to that Lees bloke who opened the batting for Yorkshire and was going to be the next Strauss/Cook at one time? What in the name of Hameed happened to him?

      3. Yup JW Lees! A decent pint of bitter, though it was that nitro carbonated type rather than cask conditioned.
        I have a Holt’s glass too, though not pilfered by my own hand. Please no one let Boris know that a tourist/pseudo-immigrant (I was over there for uni) was running rampant taking pub glasses.

  3. In other news…

    …Rakheem Cornwall.

    In Daisy’s words, “not exactly a role model”.

    In KC terms a quintessentially rotund cricketer. Top class.

    Test player.

    Rakheem Cornwall.

    1. Further to Daisy’s take on Cornwall, she suggested that the West Indies selectors must be desperate.

      When I pointed out to her that Cornwall has a first class bowling average below his batting average (23.9 v 24,4)…

      …Daisy rolled her eyes as if to say, “so what”? But I have always thought that this particular numerical inflection point is quite important.


      1. Cricketers sharing their name with an English county?

        Devon Smith
        John Hampshire
        Warwick Armstrong

      2. Somerset’s bowling average is distinctly higher than his batting average.

        Born in Kent, played for Sussex….I suppose he was working his way west towards Somerset but never actually made it to the county of his name,

        Good spot, Bail-out.

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