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5 candidates to replace Jack Leach in the 2023 Ashes

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Last Updated on 12 months by Charbel Coorey

Cricket News: 5 candidates to replace Jack Leach in the 2023 Ashes | Who will replace Jack Leach in the 2023 Ashes?

Left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who has become a key part of the England attack under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, has been ruled out of the 2023 Ashes due to a stress fracture in his back. The news comes as a blow to England who have backed Leach as both a wicket-taking and holding option in their bowling arsenal.

Now, England have a decision to make on his replacement. There is the option of playing an all-seam attack with Joe Root as the spin option, but a more experienced spinner can always deliver value in Test cricket. That being said, here are five candidates who could replace Leach for the showpiece series against Australia.

Who will replace Jack Leach for the 2023 Ashes? 5 candidates

1. Rehan Ahmed

The 2004-born leg-spinner became England’s youngest Men’s Test debutant ever in December last year, when he played his first Test against Pakistan in National Stadium, Karachi. That remains the only Test he has played so far. However, he impressed on debut, picking up seven wickets in less than 37 overs across the two innings.

Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, two of Pakistan’s best batsmen across formats, were among his victims. He also dismissed Saud Shakeel, who averaged almost 58 that series, in both the innings.

The young prodigy impressed many with his control on his lines and lengths. He is inexperienced, but he does seem like someone who is a natural spinner. Having played just one Test in the past, it would be a huge risk to play him in the Ashes. But, knowing how Bazball works, it would not be a surprise to see the 18-year old making his Ashes debut.

2. Adil Rashid

The 35-year old is another leg-spinner who could replace Jack Leach, but with a massively contrasting amount of experience in international cricket. With 278 wickets in 220 white-ball games, he is one of England’s most successful bowlers ever in the shorter formats of the game.

He last played a Test for England in January, 2019. In a total of 19 Tests, he has picked 60 wickets. He averages close to 40 in his Test career. Last year, he said that he has not retired from Test cricket, and making a comeback is not impossible.

“I’ve not closed the door on Test cricket. I’ve not retired or anything like that. It’s something that’s still there. It’s everyone’s dream to play Test cricket and I’m no different,” said Rashid to Daily Mail.

Brendon McCullum, in his early days as the head coach of England’s Test side, had said that he would be reaching out to some of their white-ball specialists to ask regarding their availability for some Test series. The Ashes might just be the series where he looks to approach Adil Rashid following Jack Leach’s injury.

3. Moeen Ali

In September 2021, Moeen Ali announced his retirement from Test cricket, making the series against India his last ever in the longest format of the game.

In June 2022, the all-rounder expressed his desire to make a Test comeback, and said that he would be available for selection if Brendon McCullum wants him. He talked about how he was impressed with what McCullum brought to the table, and that it was hard to say no to him, owing to his persuasiveness.

After retiring and then unretiring, he again reversed his decision on his Test comeback in October last year, saying that he is 35 and Test cricket would take a toll on his body.

In his 64-Test long red-ball career for England, he took 195 wickets at an average of 36.66. His statistics with the ball against Australia, however, are largely disappointing. He has taken 20 wickets against Australia in Test cricket in 11 games, bowling 335 overs in the process. His bowling average of 64.65 against Australia is the worst for him against any opposition that he has played Test cricket against.

The numbers may not be on his side, but purely for his experience, Moeen Ali may be reached out to ahead of the Ashes. 

4. Will Jacks

The 24-year old right-arm off–spinner has played only two Tests for England, both of them against Pakistan in December 2022. In two games, he took six wickets, averaging almost 39.

All of his wickets came in the same innings during the first Test between Pakistan and England in Rawalpindi. He finished with figures of 6-161 in 40.3 overs. He did not bowl more than six overs in any innings after that.

Considering his lack of experience and ordinary statistics, he is unlikely to be called up. However, he is one of the candidates in contention for the spot.

5. Liam Dawson

The 33-year old left-arm orthodox bowler is the only one amongst the contenders with the same profile as Jack Leach.

He has played 20 games in international cricket, only three of them being Tests. He arguably provides the most control of any of the aforementioned candidates, but England under McCullum and Stokes may prefer a more attacking option.

Time will tell.

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