Leach ruled out of rest of Test series in India


Jack Leach has been ruled out of the rest of England’s Test series against India after failing to recover from a knee injury. The left-arm spinner damaged his left knee fielding on the opening day of the first Test in Hyderabad, diving to stop a boundary and colliding with the ground. He then exacerbated the injury on the second morning.

The extent of the swelling of the 32-year-old’s knee meant he was unable to move freely, restricting him to a maximum of four-over spells for the remainder of the Test. Leach was able to bowl 26 overs in the first innings, but could only send down 10 in the second. He was still able to dismiss Shreyas Iyer, as England sealed victory by 28 runs.

A lack of improvement in his condition meant he was subsequently ruled out of the second Test in Visakhapatnam, which India won to square the series. Initially, it was hoped the 10-day break in the series would afford Leach more time to recover, though he remained a doubt for the third Test in Rajkot.

Following further assessment in Abu Dhabi, where the England team have been based during this gap, Leach has decided to return home for further treatment and miss the last three Tests.

A statement from the ECB read: “He will fly home from Abu Dhabi in the next 24 hours, where the England team have been staying ahead of the third Test in Rajkot, which starts on Thursday.

“Leach will work closely with the England and Somerset medical teams in respect of his rehabilitation.”

England confirmed they will not be calling up a replacement for Leach, who has been Ben Stokes’ primary spinner throughout his tenure. It is another blow for a popular member of the dressing room, who had only just returned from a stress fracture of the back that ruled him out of last summer’s Ashes.

It means England’s spin options are now limited to the young trio of Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir – who made his debut in the second Test as a replacement for Leach, his Somerset team-mate – alongside Joe Root as the team’s sole allrounder.

Leach’s absence means England are likely to veer from the one-seamer approach for the next Test, which begins on Thursday. The tourists may look to partner James Anderson with either Mark Wood (who played the first Test before being replaced by Anderson for the second) or Ollie Robinson.

As ever, much will depend on the assessment of the surface from Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum. The squad will arrive back in India on Monday ahead of their first training session on Tuesday at the Niranjan Shah Stadium.

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