Why can’t the England selectors just admit that they made a wrong call by omitting Jack Leach from England’s tour of India? The report in yesterday morning’s Daily Mail suggesting that Leachy was left out due to “concerns over the legality of his bowling action” are disappointing and look to me like a side swerve from the England camp.
If Leachy has a suspect action then why wasn’t this spotted earlier and actioned? I do not recall any umpire stopping a game and discussing Leach’s action with any Somerset captain. Likewise I do not recall Leach being no-balled from the square leg umpire at any stage either. I have not heard any of Sky’s supposed expert summarisers even mildly suggesting live on air that Jack Leach is not bowling within the laws of the game, and they are all too quick to jump on anyone who they deem to have a suspect batting stance or bowling action. And why was Jack selected for the England Lions if he needed to work on this action?
And why make this public now? Had any concerns been highlighted and announced by the selectors when this first became an issue then that would have been a proactive statement of intent, instead it appears reactive at a time when the ECB are under fire for the national team’s poor showing in India.
In the past few months the England powers-that-be have decided that Mooen Ali, Adil Rashid, Zafir Ansari, Gareth Batty and Liam Dawson offer better spin options than young Jack, suggesting that Leach is at best the sixth best spinner in the country. That’s garbage! Answer this, who would you throw the ball to out of this list if you wanted to spin a team out in a session or two?
Jack Leach is the best spinner available to the England selectors in my opinion. I will admit that is a somewhat biased opinion as I am a Somerset supporter but I think his 65 wickets in the Championship last season add more than a little strength to that debate.
The fact is the selectors are obsessed with the belief that England’s batting should be strong from the openers to number eleven. That means specialist bowlers can be overlooked in favour of a player with possibly less bowling ability but better batting abilities. All the players in the list are better batters than Jack – no doubting that – with Mooen Ali good enough to get in the England side on batting alone. But I ask again, who would be more likely to win Test matches with bowling ability?
It’s a good job this philosophy wasn’t held in the days when Derek Underwood was terrorising batsmen. Very much a specialist spinner the man called ‘Deadly Derek’ would have had a vastly reduced England career in these modern days with his extremely limited batting abilities (even though he did score one first class century). His 297 Test wickets suggest his place in the England team as a specialist spinner was justified, as is his place in the history books as one of England’s finest.
Jack is no Monty Panesar and is a good fielder and can handle a bat, as he demonstrated in the Championship game against Surrey with his unbeaten 24 as part of a last wicket stand of 31 saw Somerset home by one wicket. But more importantly he is a vastly improving bowler that looks menacing every time he picks the ball up. There were times last season when you thought he could take a wicket with every delivery.
We all know what is happening here. The selectors are justifiably under attack after the 4-0 defeat in India but rather than accept their part in this crushing series loss and admit they should have taken Jack on tour they are calling into question the technique of one of the country’s finer young talents. And that is wrong. Plain and simple.