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.