Stokes: Picking Leach at Trent Bridge an easy decision for England

By Sports Desk June 09, 2022

Ben Stokes says it was an "easy decision" to pick Jack Leach for the second Test against New Zealand after the spinner was passed fit.

Leach was substituted out of England's five-wicket win at Lord's last week after suffering a blow to the head while fielding in the morning session.

The left-arm tweaker was replaced by Matt Parkinson, who took 1-47 in the second innings of an unexpected debut at the start of a new era under captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.

Leach has undergone the standard return-to-play concussion protocols and was included in an unchanged side for a second Test that starts at Trent Bridge on Friday.

Stokes revealed it was a straightforward call to select Leach.

The all-rounder said: "It was an easy decision. It was pretty unfortunate what happened to Leachy last week at Lord's, but he’s pulled up well this week, and it was pretty straightforward once we knew he was fit to play. He was so excited to get the summer going.

"We all know that one of Baz's [McCullum's] things is for fielders to chase the ball right to the boundary.

"He made a very good point, and made Leachy stand out, that little thing epitomises what this team is all about."

There has been talk that Stokes may not be able to bowl in Nottingham, but the skipper allayed concerns on the eve of the match.

"It's just body stiffness, wear and tear," he said. "It's just about being more sensible in our training, because when you get out there and cross that line, you obviously want to do everything that you can to help win a game for England."

England's victory at Lord's was their first in 10 Tests, Joe Root starring with his first fourth-innings century to reach the 10,000 runs landmark.

New Zealand will have to do without all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme for the rest of the three-match series due to a heel injury, but Henry Nicholls will make a timely return to the side after recovering from a calf problem.

Neil Wagner or Matt Henry could replace spinner Ajaz Patel as the Black Caps eye a first Test win over England at Trent Bridge since August 1986 to level the series at 1-1.

Uprooting former skipper key for Black Caps

Root marked his first match since stepping down as skipper by producing another masterclass to get England home with support from Ben Foakes last weekend.

The 31-year-old's unbeaten 115 made him only the second England batter to score 10,000 Test runs after Alastair Cook and the 14th from any nation.

De Grandhomme removed Root for only 11 in the first innings, and Kane Williamson will be desperate to prevent England's best batter from getting set again.

Southee closing in on landmark

Tim Southee took 4-55 in the first innings at the Home of Cricket but failed to add to his wicket haul in the second innings.

The paceman needs another eight scalps to become only the third New Zealand bowler to take 350 Test wickets, with Richard Hadlee (431) and Daniel Vettori (361) the only others to have achieved that feat.

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    Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

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    Alaba did not need to settle into the action before dispatching a glorious free-kick past Fernando with his first touch. That goal meant he is one of only two players, alongside Real Betis' Nabil Fekir, to have scored two goals from free-kicks in LaLiga since the start of last season.

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    What's next?

    Madrid are away at Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Almeria visit Elche two days later. 

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