Jack Leach says he has “nothing to lose” after being called up for the second Ashes Test against Australia at Lord’s.
England left-arm spinner Leach seems certain to start on Wednesday after replacing fellow spinner Moeen Ali in the squad following the opening defeat at Edgbaston.
Leach will be tasked with slowing Steve Smith, who scored a century in both innings last week to put England to the sword, but the Somerset man is keen not to overthink the task ahead.
“It feels like I’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain,” Leach said on BBC 5 live’s Sportsweek programme. “I just want to go and do my thing.”
Leach’s last appearance at Lord’s saw him famously score 92 as a nightwatchman as England overcame a dismal first innings to beat Ireland in an Ashes warm-up.
But this week all the focus will be on his bowling as England hope he can be the man to crack Smith.
“There has been a focus on his supposed weakness against left-arm spin,” he said.
“I suppose those stats are there but I’ve just got to – if I’m in the 11 – I’ve got to do my thing and bowl as well as I can and see what happens.
“It’s the same for every batter. I want to get every batter out. Yes, there’s Steve Smith but there’s 10 other guys as well and I’ll be focusing on all of them.”
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Leicestershire spinner Colin Ackermann took a world record 7-18 in the Vitality T20 Blast clash with Birmingham Bears at Grace Road.
The off-spinner took three wickets in a single over twice as he helped his team to a comfortable 55-run victory.
The Bears lost their last eight wickets for just 20 runs as they were all out for 134.
Harry Swindells and Lewis Hill both scored half-centuries as Leicestershire posted 189-6 to move into fourth place in the North Group.
Meanwhile, a commanding display with bat and ball saw Somerset thrash Essex by 114 runs at Chelmsford.
Babar Azam hit his third half-century of the competition as the visitors posted 225-6. Roelof Van Der Merwe then claimed 5-32 with his spin to help bowl the hosts out for 111 in 12.5 overs.
Kent missed the opportunity to move back to the top of the South Group following a five-wicket defeat to Gloucestershire.
Captain Daniel Bell-Drummond (62) accounted for almost half of the Spitfires’ 125-8 and the hosts reached the target with seven balls to spare as Jack Taylor and Benny Howell guided them home with an unbroken 35-run stand from 22 deliveries.
Rob Keogh was the unlikely hero with the ball for Northamptonshire as the Steelbacks defended 145-6 to beat Durham by 21 runs.
Keogh took a career-best three for 30 as Durham could only make 124 for eight in reply at Wantage Road.
England paceman Jofra Archer stylishly staked his claim for a debut in the second Test of the Ashes with six wickets and a century during a dominant display for Sussex’s second XI.
Archer was left out of the crushing first Test defeat to Australia after playing through the pain of a side strain in his country’s successful World Cup campaign.
The 24-year-old dispelled doubts about his fitness on Tuesday with first-innings figures of six for 27 from 12.1 overs, including four maidens, before producing a superb knock of 108.
His performance against a youthful Gloucestershire second string gives England a timely boost ahead of next week’s Lord’s Test following their heavy 251-run defeat in the series opener and the loss of James Anderson to injury.
Anderson was always expected to miss next week’s clash having bowled just four overs on the first morning before pulling up with a problem in his right calf. The 37-year-old, England’s record wicket-taker, was a bit-part player thereafter, managing only two brief cameos with the bat.
The ECB said his fitness will now be monitored “on an ongoing basis”, raising question marks over whether he will be seen again in the series.
Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie had backed his player ahead of the game, saying Archer is “100 per cent fit” and “must play” against Australia in London.
“I’ll be completely honest and I might be biased as coach at Sussex but I was surprised he didn’t play the first Test to be perfectly blunt. He should have played,” the Australian told Talksport.
“All this stuff about his side, look, he’s 100 per cent fit, he’s fine and ready to go.
“Personally I think England missed a trick by not playing him but he’ll certainly play at Lord’s.
“For me, pick a guy when he’s in form, going well so for me it’s a no-brainer.
“He must play this second Test. He adds another dimension to this England bowling attack – he’s got pace, bounce, movement off the seam, through the air.”
Archer justified the faith of Gillespie against a visiting team featuring 10 players aged 20 or under, including seven teenagers.
His pace caused plenty of problems for the inexperienced opposition, with Milo Ayers feeling the full force of his bowling when a delivery clattered his grille.
The high-profile presence of the Barbados-born World Cup winner attracted a smattering of spectators in the genteel surroundings of the Sussex countryside, with a single security guard patrolling the boundary.
Those who turned up to the Blackstone Academy Ground, around 10 miles north-west of Brighton, witnessed Archer dismiss Tom Price and Gareth Roderick, caught by Joe Billings and Jack Carson respectively, inside his opening five overs.
Archer claimed his third wicket of the day by removing the off stump of Matt Brewer and then, in the space of three balls in the 29th over, had Dominic Goodman caught by Tom Haines and struck Jack Worgan’s middle stump.
Gloucestershire top scorer Gregory Willows was Archer’s final victim, caught by Carson for 38 off the opening delivery of the 33rd over to leave the visitors 79 all out.
Sussex wicket-keeper Billings was playing in a match alongside Archer for the first time.
The 20-year-old said he had to adjust his starting position to deal with his team-mate’s pacey deliveries.
“This wicket’s a bit interesting actually. It’s one of those new hybrid wickets,” said Billings.
“I’ve never played on one before and it had a bit of extra pace and carry in it, so I was a bit further back than normal and obviously with Jof’s pace down the hill as well, I certainly was a bit further back than normal.
“I think he’s feeling fit and fresh. He certainly wanted to keep going out there, he wanted to keep bowling his overs as he’s been told to do and I think he’s happy with how it’s going.”
With the bat, Archer made 108 from 99 balls during a 104-minute innings which included 12 fours and four sixes, before being trapped lbw by Adrian Neill. At the close Sussex were 279 for eight.