Jack Leach’s back, Tongue still out

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Sometimes you can’t choose between awful body part puns for your headline. What can you do in that situation other than mash them together so that neither quite works?

Jack Leach’s back

As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything. It was in fact a stress fracture that knocked him out of action initially, followed by a knee injury that required surgery. He’s fine now though, so he’s going to play for Somerset for the first time since May last year.

We very much like Jack Leach as a cricketer. He has what we would call ‘true grit’.

Leach’s grit is not showy, centre stage resilience, but an authentic kind that gets him through the less glamorous stuff, whether that be fighting Crohn’s disease, overcoming sepsis or refusing to implode when his captain and coach seemingly go out of their way to erode his entire sense of self worth.

He is, in short, the kind of guy who can step onto the grandest stage and not allow the atmosphere and occasion to sway him from simply hanging in there for a match-winning 1 not out.

A couple of weeks back we wrote a feature about Jack Leach that we somehow neglected to categorise as a feature. Here’s a link if you missed it: Raise your glasses: Jack Leach’s three silliest innings.

Tongue still out

Just before the season started, we looked at what a few of England’s ‘other’ quick bowlers had been up to over the winter as a way of pondering which of them might replace Stuart Broad. That topic seems even more relevant now in light of that thing that is going to happen. (We seem to be struggling to write it out explicitly.)

The relevant news today is that there’s been a Tongue injury – or more accurately a setback with the pectoral injury that was already keeping Josh Tongue out.

In the announcement, England said that, “there is no timescale on when he’ll return to action,” which sounds a little, “the authorities said ‘best leave it unsolved’.”

Timothée Chalamet says…

Ever since England called up Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley, it’s felt like the actual playing of cricket has been of secondary importance to whatever data the ECB have already gathered on players. But you know what? A lot of that data comes from first-class cricket.

The simple truth is that Jack Leach is in a far better position to recover his England spot if he’s out there bowling overs. If he takes a whole bunch of wickets, he’ll play.

The situation with Josh Tongue is less rosy. An article on this website earlier in the week highlighted how the road can sometimes open up for an ambitious young player, while at other times they find themselves confronted with roadworks and a series of impossible-to-follow diversions.

Tongue floated into an England Test team from which a couple of seamers were being rested and then kept his place when they played five right-arm fast-medium bowlers in the next Test. For all that he has two Test caps to his name, he was never fully favoured. Decent if unspectacular bowling against Australia probably nudged him along a little, but not playing cricket since August has since set him much further back.

So who’s ahead of him?

There’s a school of thought that says a place has opened up for a traditional kind of English new ball bowler. But surely if the overarching goal is to build an attack for touring Australia an unalike-for-unalike replacement for James Anderson would be the better option.

Jofra Archer is playing for Sussex’s second XI today, by the way.


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  1. Pectoral injuries can be seriously pesky. I have just overcome one – pectoralis minor in my left arm, seeing as none of you asked – which hung around for three months, nagging away like a teenager’s mother on speed. Then quite suddenly the problem went away – I realised that I could sleep on that side again and could revert to hitting tennis balls with my left arm.

    Whether or not pectoral injuries can cause people to spontaneously combust, I’m not able to judge. It’s not something that is widely reported about.

  2. Yay! Ankylosing spondylitis is back! As in ‘returned’, not ‘is anykl…’ , oh, hold on.

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