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Jack Leach: England and Somerset spin bowler on coping with pressure

Jack Leach bowling for England in the series against West Indies
Jack Leach bowled more overs for England than any other player in the West Indies series

England spinner Jack Leach says he is in the “best place” of his career to deal with pressure after a winter on international duty.

Leach, 30, spent the last few months away with England playing in the Ashes and tour of the West Indies.

The left-arm bowler played in three of the Test matches against Australia as England were crushed 4-0.

He then featured in all three Test matches in the Caribbean, where England also lost the series 1-0.

The England squad has come in for significant criticism having lost five Test series in a row, although Leach’s performances with bat and ball in the West Indies impressed.

He has now returned to Somerset ahead of the start of their County Championship campaign at Hampshire on Thursday.

“It’s definitely taken me time [to get used to the spotlight],” Leach told BBC Radio Bristol.

“I’m probably in the best place for that now. With experience and playing a little bit more and also having the ups and the downs.

“I think you learn how to deal with failure and everyone saying you’re rubbish.

“I just have to keep working on what I can work on, which is getting better and shut that stuff out a little bit.

“I still love doing it and I want to do it for as long as I can and I guess I just want to reach my ceiling as a cricketer and whoever I’m playing for and do the best I can for that team.”

Taunton-born Leach has spent his whole career at his hometown club, after graduating through the Somerset academy in 2010.

He has played 22 Tests for England since making his debut in 2018.

In the West Indies, Leach bowled more than any other player in the England team, including 94.5 overs during the drawn second Test and more than 189 in total.

“I definitely want to bowl those long spells,” Leach said.

“It’s probably something I’ve been craving a couple of years, that responsibility to bowl those longer spells and that came about.

“I came back from Australia really motivated. Certain things happened over there and you don’t want them to happen again and that does motivate you.”

Jack Leach and Sadiq Mahmood playing for England in the third Test Match against the West Indies
Jack Leach (left) scored 41 not out in his stand of 90 with Saqib Mahmood in Grenada

Despite defeat in the West Indies, Leach insisted there were positives to be taken from the series.

“We had a good trip out there, we all felt like it was a positive one,” he added.

“Although we lost the series and on the outside things can be looking quite negative, I think we feel on the inside some real good stuff happened.”

All-rounder in the making?

Leach, who has a top score of 92 for England, also shared a last-wicket stand of 90 with Saqib Mahmood in the first innings of the Third test – the highest of the match.

It is something Leach said he hopes to build on in the future.

“I enjoyed batting with Saqib. We broke it down and took a ball at a time and see where it takes us,” he added.

“It teaches you that if you break things down and take everything a little thing at a time and not look too far ahead things can work. That’s on and off the pitch, I think that’s a good lesson.

“I’m always trying to become a better bowler but actually there’s more things you can offer to a team, whether that be in the changing room, motivating the guys, making sure everyone is in a good place, fielding, batting.

“There’s so much to cricket and I think sometimes we just worry about our main skill.”

Somerset have been runners-up five times in the County Championship since Leach’s breakthrough in 2010, a run he finally wants to help end this season.

“I think it’s about bringing the same intensity that I’ve done for England for Somerset as well,” he added.

“I feel like I’m playing my cricket in a hard way and I want to really go for it, and give it everything and hopefully we can all do that for Somerset and bring home some silverware.”

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