Jack jets off again

Jack Leach’s dream of playing cricket for England continues today when he sets off for Gatwick before flying out to the West Indies with the rest of the squad for the three Test series.

The left-arm spinner really made his mark on the international scene during England’s series victory in Sri Lanka earlier this winter during which he claimed 18 scalps at an average of 21.38, with a best of five for 83.

When he arrived back in Taunton just a few days before Christmas, the hugely popular local lad, who grew up not much more than a six hit from the Cooper Associates County Ground, was greeted with a surprise welcome home party.

“Taunton Deane had put on a welcome back party for me and Sam Sheikh, who shares my house with me, and my girlfriend had invited all the people who had been an influence on me and helped me on my way in my career,” sadi Jack when we spoke to him just before his departure this week.

“It was great to see so many people there including my primary school teacher Mrs Robbins, Dave Stephenson who was my teacher at Bishop Foxes who also plays at the Deane. Russell Jones from the Deane and my Dad were all there as well.

“It was a bit embarrassing that it was all for me but it was nice to see how many people my success had made feel proud.

“During the time that I’ve been back home from Sri Lanka so many people have stopped to congratulate me when I’m out in the town. That makes me feel very proud and humble at the same time.”

“The support that we get here at Somerset is just so good. It’s the Club I love playing for and I feel really connected to the supporters. I know just how much it means to them to see local lads playing for the county and also going on to play for England.

“Now I want to keep on doing it for the Somerset fans and for the England supporters as well.”

This will be the third England overseas trip that Jack has been involved with, about which he said: “It’s a good feeling to be going to the West Indies with England after what I did in Sri Lanka. I’m travelling up to London on Thursday and then on Friday we fly out to Barbados. After that we go onto Antigua and St Lucia.

“Every time you go up a level you have to prove yourself and I think that’s something that I’ve managed to do all the way throughout my career.

“That goes back to my days at Taunton Deane when I first went up to play in the first team as a young lad. Then you work your way up through to play for Somerset Seconds and then the First Team. It’s the same feeling, proving to others that you can do it at that level but also proving to yourself that you can do it at as well.

“I feel that I’ve got a lot of confidence from what I achieved out in Sri Lanka and I learned a lot from doing well and bowling a lot of overs. That’s the best way to learn and I feel that I’ve put some good work in between the two series, and now I’m really excited to get out to the West Indies and put that into practice.”

How does it feel for Jack to be part of the England dressing room?

“It helped that I knew a lot of the guys before,” he said. “Having said that, it’s still a very special place to be. I must admit that it does feel a bit surreal, but the guys all make you feel very welcome. Everyone is there with the same ambitions and we share the same goal of winning the series for England. We will all be working really hard to achieve that out in the West Indies.”

Jack added: “I’ll be back to Taunton on February 23rd after which I have two weeks here and then it’s off to Abu Dhabi with Somerset to prepare for the season.

“During the winter a lot of us have been away so it’ll be great for us all to get away together and play some cricket abroad ahead of the new season for Somerset.”

England match images courtesy of Getty Images

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