Former England spinner Monty Panesar feels skipper Ben Stokes will give left-arm tweaker Jack Leach a few more opportunities to prove himself, and if the 30-year-old is still not able to deliver, the team management could look at Matt Parkinson to take up the veteran’s place this summer.
Leach has had a tough start this summer, having had to sit out for most of the opening Test at Lord’s after suffering concussion while fielding. While he retained his place in the side for the Trent Bridge Test, Leach had meagre pickings of 3/226 at an average of 75.33.
“(Skipper Ben) Stokes will give Leach a few more Tests and if he is incapable of producing performances that the coach and captain want from this new look England side, I believe Matt Parkinson will play again this summer,” Panesar has said in his column for the Telegraph.
Panesar, a veteran of 50 Tests, added that Leach should follow tennis stalwart Andy Murray’s example and hire a personal spin coach to get him out of the form slump.
“Leach needs to follow Andy Murray’s example, who made the smartest move of his tennis career when he persuaded his mother Judy to let him train at Sanchez-Casal Academy in Spain — a somewhat different experience than the traditional British way of trusting his growth to the coaches of the Lawn Tennis Association.
“Murray trained alongside Rafael Nadal in Barcelona instead of hurling his lot in with the best talent Britain had to offer. What Leach needs is to have his own spin coach that he trusts and can work with on a one-to-one basis.”
Panesar felt that with the new England set-up, where they have a new coach in Brendon McCullum, Leach will have to show more drive and commitment.
“Due to his successful record in the subcontinent a coach from that part of the world (Asia) could be a wise choice. We need to see more of a street-fighter and perceptive cricketer from him.”
With McCullum indicating that two veteran spinners — Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid — could be in his scheme of things as he casts his net wide to string together a winning combination, Leach could be the first one to be hurried out of the England Test side.
“I think the next 10 days before the Headingley Test will be a good opportunity for Leach to reflect on bowling and work out what he is doing successfully and, more significantly, why he can’t provide control from one end.
“The pressure from Adil Rashid, Parkinson and Moeen could be the blessing in disguise for Leach to really sort his bowling out or we may just have to pigeonhole him as a good bowler on turning pitches,” opined Panesar.