England v Ireland, only Test, day two
England desperately need to bolster their top order batting. The way we see it, two men who could really improve things are Somerset spin bowler Jack Leach, who batted at 11 in the first innings but made 92 yesterday, and Somerset spin bowler Dom Bess, who averages 37 in Test cricket.
Which Somerset spin bowler would make the better England top order batsman? (Because Thomas Lord knows, they can’t rely on anyone else to make the runs.)
It’s a difficult choice. Leach batted well yesterday and by no means disgraced himself with his unbeaten 1 in the first innings, but the fact remains that the 92 is really his only Test innings of note.
Bess, on the other hand, has only really failed the once. After being caught for five in his debut innings, he followed up with 57 before making 49 in his only other Test innings, batting at four as nightwatchman.
But then Leach does have more top order experience. You might think it unusual that a number 11 should open the batting for England – and in many ways it is – but Leach also stepped up in place of Keaton Jennings in November. He made 1 off 11 balls.
So there’s not much to choose between them really, except that Leach bats in glasses and made his 92 despite the fact they were repeatedly getting steamed up in mafting conditions.
On that basis we conclude that until such time as Dom Bess sees fit to renounce the contact lens, Jack Leach is the Somerset spin bowler England should pick as a top order batsman.