England spinner Jack Leach reflects on a hard-fought, winning start to the Test series in India, explains how the team helped him to rally and bag six wickets in the match, offers an insight into Jos Buttler’s batting tips and says the tourists will miss the wicketkeeper-batsman hugely…
This is my first trip to India and it’s been a hell of a tough start!
I went through every emotion under the sun in our first Test win and I guess that’s why we love cricket so much.
After conceding 77 runs off eight overs on day three I was not sure if I wanted to play cricket again (!) so I’m really proud to have come back and contributed to the team’s victory.
Who would have thought the game would feel that hard when you have won by 227 runs?
Thanks for all the support back home – we understand times are hard but we really feel like so many people are behind us and everyone is in our thoughts.
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Indian cricket has a rich tradition, producing some of the greatest players to have ever played the game, so it has always been an aspiration of mine to play here.
Watching Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar help bowl England to victory in 2012 was hugely inspirational and so it’s very exciting to be part of this series.
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Given India’s previous recent record at home – 28 wins and five draws from 34 games – we knew we were going to be up against it and the challenge now is to get ourselves fresh and mentally and physically ready for the second Test on Saturday.
I bowled 50 overs in the Test and having not had much cricket before the game and the two previous Tests in Sri Lanka, my workload has gone up considerably!
India are a class team and they will come back fighting, so we have to be ready; it’s important that we keep trying to improve in practice.
Of course, in the coming weeks we will miss Jos who has flown home for some rest.
It was great to have a quiet drink with him after our win. Jos had mixed emotions about leaving; obviously it’s really nice for him to get some time with his family, as he’s away a lot, and to have the chance to freshen up as he’s got a lot of big cricket coming up this year.
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Fantastic team performance, good luck to the boys for the rest of the series 🏴 pic.twitter.com/8EFSiA6duJ
But after winning the first match, he’s excited about what’s to come on the tour and he would love to be part of that. He’s a real competitor and a great character to have around. Jos understands what he may be missing and he also wants to be part of that.
That said, it’s exciting to have Ben Foakes back in the team. He’s had a great start to international cricket, being named Player of the Series in Sri Lanka in 2018, and I really rate his batting and ‘keeping.
Jos has kept amazingly well in the three Test matches this year and it’s great to see him doing so well. It’s hugely inspiring for me to see a guy I played Somerset U11s with get to 50 Tests and it makes me even more motivated to play as many games as I can.
A special day for @josbuttler today, who plays his 50th Test match!
🇮🇳 #INDvENG 🏴 pic.twitter.com/63zYXMUbRu
Jos came to me before the Test after I had been batting in the nets and – unprompted – helped me with my batting.
I got out in Sri Lanka paddle-sweeping so he gave me some advice on how to play the shot and I’m continuing to work on it. It gave me a lot of confidence to have a senior player show such an interest in taking care of my game.
I pride myself on being someone who is hard to get out and I try to make it as difficult as I can for the opposition because I know when I’m fielding how frustrating it can be if tail-enders hang around!
When I came in to bat in the first innings, Dom Bess was batting really well and I wanted to support him and help the side rack up as big a first-innings score as I could.
I also just wanted to make the most of batting on the wicket while it was still good and delay our turn to bowl on it, so hopefully it would be spinning more.
It was good to contribute some runs and if you are offering something with the bat in the game then you feel your confidence go into your bowling.
Of course, though, the innings belonged to Joe. It was unbelievable to watch how skilful he is with the bat – he’s probably the best player of spin in the world right now – and his execution is just incredible.
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He gives the whole team confidence when he’s playing like that and to score so heavily in his 100th Test was entirely fitting.
It was also amazing to see Dom Sibley show what he can do – it was a real good knock against spin in India – and to have Ben Stokes back again. And what else can you say about Jimmy Anderson? That over he bowled on the final day was incredible.
I remember the 2005 Ashes and Andrew Flintoff’s special over to Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting but I think Jimmy’s is right up there as well.
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Sometimes when you are playing in a game you are so focused that you can take moments like that for granted but looking back on it, it was really special.
As for me, I think I will be using the delivery that removed Rohit Sharma at the end of day four as a visualisation aid in future games!
It felt good to get a player of that stature out with a decent delivery and the timing was good too, so we did not feel like we had to come back and get 10 wickets on the final day.
As a spinner you understand that your best ball is not always going to take wickets – it equally can go out of the park – and bowling on day three certainly had its challenges.
In those moments it’s important to stay strong and patient and the boys really helped me to do that. I had a really good chat with Dom and a few others and came back strong on days four and five.
You have to understand that one day might not go your way but there are plenty of others in a Test to make an impact, so it’s important to keep going and keep fighting.
That’s what we will all be doing for the rest of the series.
Join us for live over-by-over text commentary of the second Test between India and England on the Sky Sports App and skysports.com from 3.25am on Saturday.
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