One of the most irritating plays for the opposition in a Test match is a stubborn tail-ender stretching the innings. It is even more frustrating when that tail-ender comes out as a night-watchman and refuses to get out. England’s left-arm Jack Leach went one step ahead and became the highest individual scorer of the match (so far) after striding out as a night watchman. He came out to bat an over on the first day of the Lord’s Test and kept Ireland at bay for 45 overs.
“I can’t believe it really,” said Leach in the post-day conference yesterday (25th July). “I just went out to try and do a job for the team I guess and try and soak up some balls and make it easier for the guys comes in behind me and I guess try and build some partnerships and see what happened. It probably went a little bit further than I thought it would.”
After being bundled up for just 85 runs in the first session of the opening day, England had to bounce back in their second innings. Surprisingly, it was Leach who stood tall amongst his more decorated teammates. Before his 92, the left-arm spinner had scored 19 consecutive single-figure scores in first-class cricket which included four ducks. He had also been injured by a Morne Morkel bouncer which ruled him out of the action for two weeks. “Everyone’s been saying how good my batting was looking, and it’s an area I work really hard on,” said Leach.
Can Ireland pull off an upset?
England will resume their second innings on the third day of the one-off Test with 181 runs ahead. Currently, Stuart Broad and Olly Stone are at the crease and will try to add as many runs as possible. Ireland will have a shot at glory if they can chase down the total to register their first Test win. However, Leach believes that England can still have a chance in this game.
“I think actually there is pressure on Ireland. It’s the first time they’ve had this experience of probably being favourites to win the game. We don’t need to hide away from that. But we do believe we’ve got a great chance,” said Leach.
The 28-year old bowler added, “We’ve already talked in the dressing room about the game at Edgbaston last year against India where they were chasing 180 and came 30 short. The boys believe this is a tougher wicket than that one so we’ll have big belief going into tomorrow and we’ll have to bowl really well. But I think we’ve got a great chance.”