Jack Leach learning from England’s spin greats ahead of India Test series

Jack Leach says he has been taking tips from successful England spinners of the past ahead of the Test series against India – but is determined to stick to his strengths and do things his way.

Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann starred when England famously won in India in 2012, taking 37 wickets between them.

Leach and fellow spinners Dom Bess and Moeen Ali will likely have to take plenty of wickets again if England are to repeat the success when their four-Test series against India gets underway on Friday.

But while Leach has been keen to learn from Panesar and Swann, he is not planning on making significant changes to his game.

“They are two bowlers I love to watch. I have watched a lot of spin videos and try to take things from everyone I watch,” he said.

“Monty bowled an amazing pace, strong pace, and on a spinning wicket that can be very tricky. I probably won’t be bowling at the same speeds but it’s probably more about how the ball gets there in terms of trajectory.

“There have been very successful bowlers who don’t bowl as fast as Monty. It’s knowing what my optimum pace is and going up and down a little bit from there, but trying to get as much energy on the ball and deceive them that way.

“I am always looking at ways to be as strong as possible in my action and be able to bowl fast and bowl slow, to do what the wicket dictates. Everyone has an optimum pace and I think it’s important to try and stick to that as much as possible.”

Leach also revealed he has discussed tactics with former England spinner Ashley Giles, who bowled over the wicket a lot to try and stop India from scoring in 2001/02.

“I have spoken to Gilo and it’s something he found really helpful, bowling over the wicket, for his action as well. I prefer round the wicket, I feel like I have more dismissals in play, and I wouldn’t want to change something just because someone else did it.

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“It’s about sticking to your strengths and doing that. It might be something we can use at some point.

“I don’t want to complicate things too much. I will obviously be aware of their strengths but it will be about sticking to what I do.

“They have quite a lot of right-handers so I see that as a good thing for me and I feel I can make a good impression and do good things against that Indian line-up.”

Left-hander Leach made his return to the Test side for the first time in 14 months as England warmed up for their trip to India with a 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka.

The 29-year-old, who took 10 wickets in the series, admits he was a bit “rusty” after so long out, but is expecting improvement in India.

“I am probably someone who is never happy in a way and there is more improvement from me to come. I feel like the way the ball came out wasn’t exactly the way I like it but I have to accept I haven’t had much cricket in recent times and it feels really good to be back playing.

“To get those games played and win the series 2-0, it was nice to be part of that and make a contribution. Reflecting on it I feel good for the cricket and the overs, but feel like I have more to offer.

“I just want to bring my best. It has been a long time not playing and I did a lot of work to try and become the bowler I want to be. I feel like it’s all in there I just need to bring it out now.

“Sri Lanka was a good start and I feel like I am going in the right direction. For me it’s about trying to help the team in every game. We have a good group of spinners and good relationship in that group. We have a series to win and that’s my main focus.”

Asked about the pressure of being a spinner in India, where pitches are not expected to offer much for the seam bowlers, Leach added: “There is pressure all the time playing for England. Certainly I put that pressure on myself. I always want to do well for England wherever it is in the world. In India there is maybe a bit more pressure with what wickets could be like, but we don’t know what we are going to come up against.

“India are a great side and have all bases covered, so I wouldn’t want to make too many assumptions. I just know if I can get myself right and in the right space and bowling how I can then I can be effective.”

England are set to train together in India for the first time as a full group on Tuesday after all returning negative Covid-19 test results.

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