Ashes 2019: Leach not solely focused on Smith wicket

By Sports Desk August 11, 2019

Jack Leach is not just focusing on getting the wicket of Steve Smith as he prepares to make an expected Ashes debut in the second Test at Lord's.

Leach has replaced the struggling Moeen Ali in England's 12-man squad, after Joe Root's side suffered a 251-run defeat at Edgbaston.

Australia's superb comeback from 122-8 in the first innings was led by the talismanic Smith, who rescued the tourists with a stunning knock of 144 and then followed it up with 142 in the second innings as they took command.

Minus the injured James Anderson, England looked completely bereft of inspiration as to how to dismiss Smith, who boasts a remarkable Test batting average of 62.96.

Smith's average against left-arm spin is a much less impressive 34.9, but Leach insists he is not placing any extra importance on claiming the wicket of Australia's former captain.

"It feels like I've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain," Leach told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I just want to go and do my thing.

"There has been a focus on his [Smith's] supposed weakness against left-arm spin.

"I suppose those stats are there but, if I'm in the 11, I've just 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."

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  • Ashes 2019: Archer 'over the moon' after ripping through Australia Ashes 2019: Archer 'over the moon' after ripping through Australia

    England paceman Jofra Archer was "over the moon" after he skittled Australia out with a maiden five-wicket Test haul on a rain-affected day one of the third Ashes contest at Headingley.

    Archer took 6-45 - including five of eight wickets to fall in a dramatic final session - as the tourists collapsed from 136-2 to 179 all out after being asked to bat on a gloomy day in Leeds, where only 52.1 overs were bowled.

    The quick bowled with great skill under grey skies, tormenting Australia after making a huge impact on his Test debut at Lord's.

    Australia folded after third-wicket stand of 111 between David Warner (61) and Marnus Labuschagne (74), with Stuart Broad taking 2-32 before Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes took a wicket apiece.

    Archer reflected on a job well done less than a week after he rattled Steve Smith on the helmet with a bouncer, resulting in the prolific former Australia captain being ruled out of the third Test with concussion.

    He told Test Match Special: "Firstly, it means I get to rest. We've been in the field all day, it was stop start all day, which is really annoying. You start to bowl well and then you have to go off and start again. I'm over the moon to get six wickets but equally happy just to get off.

    "The ball just started swinging randomly from the over before the Warner wicket. It got a bit more overcast and then from then on the ball was really good.

    "We thought it was going to be a repeat of Lord's and losing the first day. But we got a large portion of the bad weather out of the way today."

    He added: "I didn't do too much differently from Lord's, the slope there just makes the balls a lot harder to play. It was a bit bowler-friendly today, at times it did go flat and the ball stopped swinging but it started again.

    "There were a few threes and no sweepers, I'll more than take 6-45 but I can be tidier in the future. It's been really good so far, from the moment I've put the badge on, it's been the happiest days of cricket so far and hopefully plenty more ahead.

    "They've got some good bowlers as well so we've got to bat really well tomorrow."

  • Ashes 2019: Archer takes six as Australia crumble in Leeds Ashes 2019: Archer takes six as Australia crumble in Leeds

    Jofra Archer took six wickets as Australia were skittled out cheaply on a rain-affected first day of the third Ashes Test at Headingley despite half-centuries from David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne.

    Australia lost eight wickets for 43 runs in a dramatic final session on Thursday, collapsing to 179 all out after Joe Root put them in under grey skies following a delayed start due to dismal weather in Leeds.

    Warner (61) returned to form with a battling knock and Labuschagne (74) made a second successive half-century, having frustrated England with a crucial innings when he was called in as a concussion replacement for Steve Smith at Lord's.

    Labuschagne, selected with Smith ruled out, and Warner put on 111 for the third wicket before the magnificent Archer took five of eight wickets to fall after tea, giving England a great chance of levelling the Ashes series at 1-1.

    Strike bowler Archer, whose rapid bouncer flattened Smith last weekend, sealed a maiden Test five-for with figures of 6-45, while Stuart Broad posted 2-32 in the 52.1 overs that were bowled on a gloomy day.

    Archer struck in his second over after play began following a delay of just over an hour, snaring Marcus Harris – in for the dropped Cameron Bancroft – caught behind with a brilliant delivery.

    Australia were 25-2 when Broad strangled Usman Khawaja down the leg side after an early lunch was taken due to more dismal weather.

    They were back off for rain with the tourists 39-2 and England lost control after an early tea was taken due to bad light.

    Opener Warner slapped Ben Stokes for four and brought up his half-century with a streaky boundary over point in the same over as England's frustration mounted.

    Warner successfully reviewed when he was given out caught behind off Broad for 61 but was on his way when he nicked a sharp ball from Archer through to Jonny Bairstow.

    Travis Head was cleaned up by an unplayable delivery from Broad and Matthew Wade was also on his way without scoring in unfortunate fashion, seeing the ball trickle back and hit the stumps after Archer struck him on the glove.

    Labuschagne was in agony when he was hit in a painful area by Broad after reaching his half-century and Chris Woakes had captain Tim Paine leg before following a successful review.

    Root held on at first slip when Archer drew an edge from James Pattinson – in for Peter Siddle – and Pat Cummins became Archer's fifth victim before Labuschagne missed a straight full toss from Stokes and was triggered lbw.

    Archer fittingly finished Australia off by getting Nathan Lyon lbw with the first ball of the final over of what turned out to be very much England's day.

     

    ARCHER AND BROAD HIT THE MARK AGAIN

    Archer rose to the occasion on his Test debut at Lord's and showed no signs of fatigue with another hostile display of fast bowling.

    The Barbados-born quick came to the fore in a dramatic evening session, tearing through the tourists as he bowled with pace and great control.

    Broad was also outstanding once again and could easily have had at least five wickets as he generated plenty of swing and movement off the seam.

     

    WARNER STOPS THE ROT, LABUSCHAGNE A SUPER SUB FOR SMITH

    Warner had not made it to double figures in his four visits to the crease at Edgbaston and Lord's, but the opener was back in business in Yorkshire.

    The left-hander rode his luck, playing and missing time and again, but struck seven boundaries and ran aggressively in a battling knock.

    Labuschagne came to the rescue when he replaced Smith in London with a resolute half-century and was in the runs again after earning his place in the side, batting with excellent technique and application.

     

    MOMENT OF THE DAY

    Archer conjured up a couple of brilliant deliveries to dismiss Harris and Warner, but a pumped up Broad left Head shaking his head with a peach of a ball which struck the top of off stump.

     

    OPTA FACTS

    - The second-highest stand after David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne's partnership was only 23 – between the latter and Tim Paine.
    - Stuart Broad is one wicket away from becoming the all-time leading Test wicket-taker at Headingley.
    - Labuschagne has reached 50 in eight of his last 11 first-class innings; having been in sublime form during a spell with Glamorgan.
    - Travis Head's duck was the second of his Test career – the first came in his maiden innings.

  • Ashes 2019: First day of third Test blighted by rain and bad light Ashes 2019: First day of third Test blighted by rain and bad light

    England's bid to level the Ashes at Headingley was hampered by rain and bad light at Headingley as Australia's batsmen faced just 18 overs in the first two sessions of the third Test.

    The hosts, 1-0 down in the five-match series, had inserted their opponents under gloomy skies after winning the toss in Leeds, yet play was delayed for 80 minutes due to showers, and only four overs were possible before the inclement weather returned.

    During that time, however, Jofra Archer made the early breakthrough by drawing the edge of the recalled Marcus Harris (8), whose opening partner David Warner lived a charmed life, particularly against the impressive Stuart Broad.

    Play resumed again at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) and Broad eventually got his reward, Usman Khawaja (8) given out following England's review when his bat brushed the ball en route to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow's gloves.

    The players were forced off once more due to further rain and only 3.1 overs had been bowled when proceedings were halted again, this time due to bad light.

    Warner, who was unbeaten on 26 having been out for single figures in each of his previous four innings in the series, appeared only too happy to depart, though England's players were less impressed as he and Marnus Labuschagne (7 not out) walked off while the umpires checked the light.

    The latest interruption meant tea was taken at 16:10 on a frustrating opening day.

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