For me he is Somerset’s player of the season and one of the dominant reasons why the club heads into the last game of 2016 with a genuinely strong chance of winning the County Championship. The rise of Jack Leach from supporting player to our strike spin option has been phenomenal and is the result of much hard work from the player and the club’s coaching staff.
There was also a large amount of faith shown by Matt Maynard who opted not to sign an international spinner after the disappointing return of Abdur Rehman last season and the release of George Dockrell.
It was not a surprise for me to see Leachy linked with England’s tour to Bangladesh this October. His omission, however, has been. Not just because I think the player merits inclusion due to his excellent season at Somerset but the fact that the selectors have opted for the more experienced Gareth Batty of Surrey instead.
The 25 year-old Leach has taken 58 wickets in the Championship this season with one more game left against Notts this week. This at an average 22.6 and includes two occasions when he has passed five wickets.
Compare that to 38 year-old Batty whose 41 wickets have averaged 31.22. His tally, including two fivefer’s and one 10-wicket haul, will not improve as Surrey’s four-day season is over. He may offer England options at this late stage of his career but Leach has time on his side and will only get better so looks a far better option.
The selectors have also picked 24 year-old Zafar Ansari, Batty’s team-mate at Surrey, which is fair enough as he has oodles of ability and has been unfortunate not to play for his country before due to injury. But his 22 wickets at 31.41 always look pale in comparison to Leachy’s and he too will not improve on this in 2016.
So I hope Leachy uses his England snub as further motivation this week to prove the selectors wrong. A healthy return in a Somerset win would go a long way to enforcing that view and would further enhance his growing reputation.
I love watching Leachy bowl. He always looks dangerous and able to take wickets with every ball. His best is yet to come and I am sure this oversight by England will be temporary.