England’s hopes in the ongoing series against India have taken a hit with the news of spinner Jack Leach being ruled out due to a left knee injury sustained during the first Test in Hyderabad. Despite hopes of a swift recovery, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Sunday, February 11, that Leach won’t be fit in time for the remainder of the series.
The 32-year-old, who missed the following match in Visakhapatnam due to the same injury, was expected to return after a break. However, his recovery progress didn’t meet expectations, leading to the decision for him to head back home from Abu Dhabi, where the England team is currently stationed. The ECB stated that both the England and Somerset medical teams will closely monitor Leach’s rehabilitation process.
Notably, England opted not to name a replacement for Leach, despite his pivotal role as the senior-most spinner in the squad. This decision leaves Rehan Ahmed, with just three Test matches of experience, along with Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir, who have two and one Test match under their belts respectively, to shoulder the spinning duties for the team.
Despite Leach’s absence, England’s spinners have stepped up admirably, with Hartley and Bashir displaying commendable character in their performances. However, the surprising omission of Dan Lawrence, a standout performer in domestic cricket, from the squad has raised eyebrows, especially in light of Leach’s exit.
In the opening Test in Hyderabad, Leach managed to secure two wickets, contributing to England’s victory by 28 runs. His absence will undoubtedly be felt, but England will look to their remaining spinners to maintain their momentum as they head into the crucial third Test in Rajkot, starting on Thursday.