Jack Leach will have a tough mandate if he is selected for the Lord’s Test, given he will likely have the unenviable job of containing Steve Smith. However, the left-arm spinner said he will approach the task with a “nothing to lose” mindset.
Leach replaced Moeen Ali in the squad, the off-spinner being taken to the cleaners by Smith and ending the match with 3-172. He was also dismissed for 0 and 4, and the onus will now be on Leach, if he is selected, to repeat his feat against Ireland late in July when he scored 92 as nightwatchman.
There is considerable pressure on the 28-year-old, but Leach said he will approach it without fear. “It feels like I’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain,” Leach said on BBC Radio’s Sportsweek. “I just want to go and do my thing.”
Leach just had to bowl three overs against Ireland, who collapsed for 38 in the second innings, but will have a lot more to do against an Australia side possessing a more threatening batting line-up. The chief threat will be Smith, who scored 144 and 142 in Edgbaston. He has a perceived weakness against left-arm spin, and that is where Leach comes in.
“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 XI — 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.”
Meanwhile, the Australians already have counter measures in place for Leach. During an optional net session on Sunday, August 11, the tourists, according to AAP, employed the services of UAE left-arm spinner Ahmed Raza, who joined local net bowlers to help Australia train.
Raza, who has featured in 25 ODIs and 28 T20Is, played alongside Smith, David Warner and Peter Siddle in the 2018 edition of the Global T20 Canada, and his left-arm spin in the nets gave the Australian batsmen a taste of what to expect from Leach.
The second Test will begin at Lord’s on Wednesday, August 14.