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Jack delighted to have come back stronger

Jack Leach jets off to Sri Lanka with the England Test squad this week.

Before he left we sat down with him in Stragglers Coffee House to discuss what’s been a difficult year.

2018 seemed to be a year of contrasting fortunes for you. How do you feel it went overall?

“It’s been a good year for the team as a whole. We feel like we’ve progressed since last year and it’s been a good squad to be involved with. To come second in a very strong County Championship is a great effort and to make Finals Day was impressive too. Having said that, we obviously want to go one better in the future and we’re all hungry for that.

“Personally, it was a good year for me in the end, but it was a bit up and down. It felt like a long season because I made my England debut in New Zealand even before pre-season. There were some tough times this year when I broke my thumb and then got concussion after getting hit in the head. Thankfully, I managed to get some overs in at the end of the season for the Second XI and then for the First Team. It was great to get my rhythm back and to get some overs under my belt and by the end of the season I was feeling really good. To get the England call up was the best way to end what’s been a tough year.”

What do you put the Club’s change in fortunes down to?

“I think there are a number of factors. Tom Abell’s progressed as a captain and a leader this year and that was really bigĀ  for us. His relationship with Jason Kerr and Andy Hurry is really good and it feels like there’s a clear message from the top.

“Having Andy Hurry back has created a real feel good factor too. Most of us have worked with him and Jason in the past and Jason was my Academy Director which has been really big for me this year.

“We’ve also got a lot of young players who have a lot of experience. We’ve all learned together and it takes time to understand how First Class cricket works but now we’re all a year older and a year wiser.”

It was a long time coming, but what was it like to finally make your England debut?

“It was an amazing feeling. It was surreal and it happened quite quickly. Mason Crane got injured and that meant that I got called up. Before I really knew it I was on a ‘plane. To make my England debut was a great experience and a dream come true. After getting a taste of that I was left wanting more and it’s given me massive drive, especially when I’ve had those low moments, to get back out there and keep getting better so that I can maybe get another opportunity for England.”

Having gone through those tough times this year did the call up for the Sri Lanka series mean more to you?

“I think it did mean more because I was picked for the start of the tour rather than the call up coming off the back of someone getting injured. I feel like I’ve earned my place this time. It’s been made all the more sweet after those low moments that I had.

“I’m very aware that in cricket and in life there are ups and downs, but you’ve got to keep looking forward. I’m very grateful and thankful for where I am now, but I’m still aware that things can change at any point so I’ve got to keep working hard and keep on enjoying it.”

You’ve had to overcome adversity again this year, but once again you seem to have come back even stronger. What do you put your mental toughness down to?

“I’ve got a great support network here at Somerset. I’ve got a very good relationship with Jason Kerr, Andy Hurry, Paul Tweddle (Fielding Coach), Joel Tratt (Head of Strength & Conditioning) and Jamie Thorpe (Head of Science & Medicine) to name just a few. They’ve all really helped me at different times.

“You spend a lot of time with Jamie and Joel when you’re injured and they don’t just help you with your injury. They are there to talk to when you’re at you’re lowest and they’ve been a real help. I’ve got a lot of people to thank including my family and especially my mum and dad. They’re big Somerset fans and I feel like they go through the same emotions as me and they’ve been so supportive.

“These low moments either make or break you, and you can go one of two ways. I have a massive drive to keep playing cricket at the highest level. It’s what I love doing and it’s what I wanted to do when I was a little kid, so for me there’s no other option but to work hard, work through the low times and get better.”

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